The Supreme Court is expected to approve next month the rules on the use of body cameras in the implementation of search and arrest warrants, Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo said Friday.
During his first virtual press conference since becoming Chief Justice in April, Gesmundo stressed the issue would be discussed as early as June 15 when the high bench resumes its regular sessions.
The Supreme Court first tackled the matter last March 16.
“Our colleagues have submitted their respective inputs. We are optimistic that maybe two or after three deliberations we will come up with that final version,” Gesmundo said.
“It’s in the works and by July perhaps we can have the final version and we’ll approve it for implementation immediately,” he added.
Gesmundo said Associate Justice Marvic Leonen had circulated to the other members of the Court a working draft on the proposed revisions on the rules related to the issuance of search and arrest warrants.
Pending approval of the rules, the Philippine National Police launched on June 4 the body-worn camera system for them to ensure transparency and legitimacy of law enforcement operations.
PNP Chief Police General Guillermo Eleazar said an initial 2,696 body cameras have been distributed to 171 police stations and offices.
Eleazar said police need 33,000 to 34,000 body-worn cameras to cover all their units in the country.
The PNP’s body-worn camera system will be used for anti-illegal drug operations, except where police operatives act as poseur buyers and perform test-buys; service of search warrant and warrant of arrest; hostage rescue operations; high risk check/chokepoint operations;
Security operations during the implementation of decision/orders of the court; and quasi-judicial or administrative bodies security coverage during major events (such as ASEAN, SEA Games, SONA, national and local elections, festivals, among others).
The killing of nine activists in Calabarzon on March 7 as a result of simultaneous police operations against suspected communist rebels occurred following the implementation of search warrants issued by Manila courts.
The incident prompted various groups to call on the Supreme Court to review its rule allowing executive judges of Manila and Quezon City to issue search warrants that can be implemented nationwide.
The groups also asked the SC to remind trial courts to look into the basis for the issuance of search warrants and investigate those granted by “search warrant factories.”
They also said the SC should look into how judges resolve and consider applications for search warrants, especially if several applications are being filed.