MANILA – The spate of alleged police abuse during drug raids has highlighted the need to install body cameras on law enforcers to document the operations, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Wednesday.
In Senate Bill 1564 filed this afternoon, the Liberal Party president said body cameras that record actual events during police operations will provide valuable information and objective evidence during investigations and civil or criminal litigation, including drug raids.
“Tatapusin nito ang pagkakaiba sa mga kwento tuwing may enkwentro ang mga pulis at pro-protektahan nito ang publiko mula sa mga pang-aabuso at maling pag-uugali ng pulisya. At ang pinakamahalaga, malinaw ang pananagutan ng mga pulis sa kanilang mga tungkulin,” he said.
(“It will put an end to the radically divergent accounts of these police encounters and will protect the public from police abuses and misconducts. Most importantly, it will hold police officers accountable for their actions.”)
“Magsisilbi rin itong isang epektibong panukala para mapanumbalik ang tiwala ng taumbayan sa ating mga opisyal na tagapagpatupad ng batas at protektahan sila mula sa mga maling akusasyon ng pang-aabuso o krimen bilang resulta ng kanilang ligal na pagtupad ng kanilang mga tungkulin,” Pangilinan added.
(“This will also serve as an effective remedial measure to restore public trust on our law enforcement officers and protect them from wrongful accusations of abuse or crime as a result of their lawful discharge of their functions.”)
To date, 7,080 killings of drug suspects have been recorded since the beginning of the Duterte administration’s war on drugs in July 2016. Most of these killings were justified by police officers as lawful police operations due to the alleged armed resistance of drug suspects.
In addition to the death toll, 32 people were killed in an overnight “drug sweep” in Bulacan on the third week of August 2017. During the same week, 49 more died within a span of four days in a series of police operations conducted in Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela, and Manila.
The most recent one is that of Kian de Los Santos, a 17-year-old student from Caloocan City, which resulted in public outrage.
“Kung wala pang CCTV footage na ipinakitang si Kian ay hinila ng mga pulis patungo sa isang eskina at iba pang mga saksi, naging istatistika at naturingang drug suspectna si Kian na tumangging arestuhin at binaril ang mga pulis,” Pangilinan said.
(“If not for the CCTV footage showing Kian being dragged by policemen towards an alley and other witnesses to the alleged incident, he would have been reduced to a mere statistic and labelled as a drug suspect killed because he resisted arrest and shot at police officers.”)
The senator said that while media personnel are allowed to witness police operations, none of them have so far recorded these killings during operations. There are no CCTV cameras at the scenes of these operations or if there are, these are either defective or intentionally turned off for allegedly security purposes, he said.
“Kaya merong pag-aalinlangan kung ano ang aktwal na nangyayari sa mga operasyon ng pulisya; nakakapagod na ang salaysay na ang karamihang namamatay ay ‘nanlaban’ daw. Kaya kinakailangang ilagay ang mga mekanismo na matitiyak na transparent ang operasyon ng pulisya,” Pangilinan said.
(“There is, thus, a lingering doubt as to what actually transpires during police operations; the worn-out narrative is that most of those who died resisted arrest or, in the usual police alibi, ‘nanlaban.’ It is therefore imperative to put in place mechanisms that will ensure transparent police operations.”)
Within two years upon the effectivity of the measure, a body camera will be a standard equipment of all law enforcement officers conducting law enforcement and special police operations.
A budget for these equipment would be included in the annual budget.
The body camera footage will be retained by law enforcement agencies that employ the officer who captured the footage for six months from the date it was recorded, after which time such footage will be permanently deleted.