Access to contents of police body cameras needs guidelines, says PNP chief
MANILA, Philippines — Public access to contents of police body cameras would need certain parameters, according to Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, who also said Monday that the Supreme Court (SC) is still formulating guidelines on the matter.
Eleazar stressed that one example that may warrant access to contents of police body cameras by the public or media could be when certain allegations, such as police operations abuse or lapses, demand its release.
“Parang binabalanse nila [Supreme Court] ang privacy and other technicalities na ma-consider (they seem to be balancing privacy and other technicalities to be considered),” said Eleazar in a press briefing.
“At isang narinig kong sinabi nila, hindi ibig sabihin may body camera, anybody could access or request that. There are only some instances na pwede itong maging available sa public,” he added.
(And another thing I heard them say is that just because there is a body camera, doesn’t mean anybody could access it. There are only some instances that it can be available to the public.)
The SC had assured the PNP that the special rules mandating the police’s use of body-worn cameras during operations would not compromise law enforcement duties.
SC Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo previously told Eleazar that other members of the high tribunal had already presented their proposals and comments on the draft rules submitted by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.
“Mas mabuti nang intayin natin [guidelines] but the point is, hindi ibig sabihin may body camera, anybody or the media can just demand na pwede makita natin ano nangyari dun. There must be parameters.”
(It’s better if we wait for the guidelines but the point is, it doesn’t mean the media can just demand to see what happened if there is a body camera. There must be some parameters.)
Police officers’ use of body cameras was launched on June 4.
Eleazar said body cameras will be used during PNP’s anti-illegal drug operations, serving of search warrants and warrants of arrest, and regular patrolling.
However, only eight percent of the 220,0000 PNP members will be equipped with the gear since PNP only has about 3,000 body cameras to use and most of it was distributed among police stations in Metro Manila.
Eleazar said the ultimate target is to equip all the provincial, city, and station level drug enforcement units of PNP with body cameras to “totally ease doubts and speculations in every anti-illegal drugs operations of the PNP.”
This means that at least 30,000 additional body cameras are still needed to fully equip all the police stations and units across the country.
Eleazar said some local government units and stakeholders are willing to donate body cameras to the police.
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