PNA file photo

MANILA – House Deputy Speaker Bernadette Herrera on Monday urged newly appointed Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Guillermo Eleazar to start the rollout of body-worn cameras in police operations.

Herrera said the required use of body cams in Philippine law enforcement is long overdue as it would help provide Filipinos with ample, appropriate, and technology-updated law enforcement and protection of civil liberties.

"Appropriate body cam use in law enforcement can protect the innocent and law enforcers and help mete out justice on those who choose to violate the law with impunity," she said.

Herrera noted that public trust in the police has been in "distress" lately because of the continuing involvement of some police officers in brutality towards quarantine violators, red-baiting of community pantry organizers, misencounter with fellow law enforcers, and planting evidence during raids, among others.

She said police body cameras will help restore trust and confidence in law enforcement.

"Mandatory wearing of body cameras by police officers can somehow regain the trust of Filipinos in the police force," she said.

In March, the Supreme Court made back-to-back announcements requiring police body cameras to record the serving of court warrants.

Last week, Directorate for Logistics director Maj. Gen. Angelito Casimiro said the PNP Directorate for Operations (DO) is still looking into privacy issues when presenting the videos of body cameras as evidence in court.

Some lawmakers questioned why the PNP has yet to finish crafting protocols for the use of body cameras.

Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said it is a matter of copying best practices in the world on its use.

“What is so difficult and problematic in the implementation on the use of body cams by law enforcers here in the country? It's not rocket science and the most is it would just take days to orient the users on its worldwide accepted protocols," Barbers said.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Ferdinand Gaite accused the PNP of "intentionally delaying" the protocols.

"Wala pang protocols? Ganito lang, suotin ninyo na sa mga operasyon ninyo (No protocols yet? All you have to do is wear it in your operations). I think they are intentionally delaying this so that they could continue with the modus operandi of planting evidence in their operations against activists, and other nefarious activities," Gaite said.

The Palace earlier said the use of body cams would help “minimize doubts over the circumstances when someone is killed” in police operations. (PNA)