Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Police General Guillermo Eleazar on Friday met with Supreme Court (SC) justices to consult on the legalities on the use of body cameras in police operations.
In a Facebook post, Eleazar said he coordinated with Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo, Justice Marvic Leonen, Justice Rodil Zalameda, Justice Samuel Gaerlan, Justice Jhosep Lopez, Court Administrator Midas Marquez, and SC spokesperson Atty. Brian Keith Hosak.
The PNP chief said that during the meeting, he asked their guidance regarding body worn cameras in police operations.
Gesmundo said the Court, in crafting the rules on the body worn cameras, was striking a balance between protecting an individual’s constitutional rights on arrest, search and seizure, and ensuring the unhampered operational requirements of law enforcers.
“We try to achieve that balance so that the end goal is we do not disregard the constitutional rights of people, but at the same time, the law enforcers are also given adequate leeway to effectively discharge your functions,” he said.
The top magistrate said the Court would make an arrangement with the Philippine Judicial Academy, the SC’s judicial education arm, to provide the training of all those involved in the implementation of these rules, which will be released soon.
In June, Gesmundo said the SC might approve this July the rules on the use of body cameras in the implementation of search and arrest warrants.
Back then, Gesmundo said the matter would be discussed on June 15 when the Court resumes its regular sessions. The high court first tackled the issue on 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,” he said.
“It’s in the works and by July perhaps we can have the final version and we’ll approve it for implementation immediately.”
According to Gesmundo, Leonen had circulated to the other members of the Court a working draft on the proposed revisions on the rules in connection with the issuance of search and arrest warrants.
On June 4, the PNP launched the body-worn camera system for the police to ensure transparency and legitimacy of law-enforcement operations.
Eleazar said that initially, a total of 2,696 units have been distributed to 171 police stations and offices.
In the National Capital Region Police Office, all five police districts and 15 city police stations as well as 12 police stations in Quezon City and 11 in Manila will also have the body-worn cameras.
Eleazar said the police organization needs 33,000 to 34,000 body-worn cameras to cover all the police units in the country, with 16 of the device per police station.
PNP’s body-worn camera system will be used for the following operation:
- 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)
— Joviland Rita/Virgil Lopez/RSJ, GMA News