To prevent murders like Kian Delos Santos’s, Pangilinan wants body cams in police ops

August 16, 2019

Violence in the hands of police has no place in society: Kiko

MANILA — To protect the public against police abuses and misconduct, body cameras should be required in police operations, said Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Friday, the second year of the murder of 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos.

On November 2018, a Caloocan City court found three policemen guilty for the murder of Delos Santos, whom they accused of resisting arrest during an Oplan Galugad operation.

“Maliwanag sa kaso ni Kian na ilan sa mga pulis, na dapat sana ay naglilingkod at nagtatanggol sa tao, ay may kakayahang abusuhin ang kanilang kapangyarihan (It is clear in Kian’s case that some policemen, who are supposed ‘to serve and protect’ the people, are capable of abusing their power),” Pangilinan said.

“Isa lamang si Kian sa libu-libong pinatay dahil daw nanlaban. Ang tanong natin, kung hindi pala nanlaban si Kian gaya ng paratang ng mga pulis, paano pa kaya ang libu-libong katulad niya? (Kian is just one of the thousands of people killed because of resisting arrest. If Kian didn’t resist arrest as alleged by policemen, how about the thousand others like him?),” asked the Liberal Party president.

Witnesses heard the boy tell his killers to let him go because he had a test the following day.

According to the Philippine National Police (PNP), a total of 6,847 drug suspects have been killed in alleged shootouts with the police from July 1, 2016 to July 31, 2019.

The Commission on Human Rights, meanwhile, estimates the drug war could have claimed more than 27,000 lives, including victims of vigilante-style killings.

Because of the spate of killings in police operations, Pangilinan filed for the second time the Body Camera Act, which seeks to mandate the use of body cameras as standard equipment while conducting law enforcement and special police operations. He filed the same bill 23 August 2017.

“Kapag may magsisilbing mata habang isinasagawa ang operasyon ng mga pulis, magkakaroon ng record sa mga aktwal na kaganapan na maaaring magsilbing ebidensya sakaling may mga kaso ng pang-aabuso (When there are eyes serving as witness while police operations are being conducted, we can have a record of the actual events that could possibly be used when there are cases of abuse),” he said.

The Body Camera Act shall require law enforcement personnel to immediately activate the body cameras at the beginning of operations or at the first reasonable opportunity when there is an immediate threat to life and safety.

The said cameras shall not be deactivated until operations have been concluded.

In specific instances, the camera may be deactivated to protect the privacy of occupants of private residences, crime victims, and anonymous reporter of crimes, among others, with their required consent.

The body camera footages are subject to a retention period of six months from its recording date and will be permanently deleted thereafter. However, if the said footage has evidentiary or exculpatory value, the period of retention may be extended for a longer time not exceeding three years upon the request of concerned law enforcement officers and the public.

“Lahat protektado,” added Pangilinan as use of body cameras in police operations would also protect law enforcers against accusations of abuse and misconduct.

“Nakamit na ni Kian ang hustisya ngunit patuloy pa rin ang mga patayan. Violence in the hands of police has no place in our society,” Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan says he dedicates the proposed measure to Kian Delos Santos and the thousands who have yet to find justice.

“Inaalay natin ang panukalang batas na ito para kay Kian at sa libu-libong pang hindi pa nakakamit ang hustisya,” he said.