File photo of policemen arresting protesters during a Pride March in Manila on June 26 last year. (Photo courtesy by Associated Press)
We’re not anti-police . . . we’re anti-police brutality.
— American human rights activist Alfred Charles Sharpton Jr.
WHERE are the body cams to be used by policemen during anti-crime operations, particularly in their anti-illegal drugs campaign?
In the House of Representatives, the Makabayan bloc is seeking an investigation on the delays in the implementation of Philippine National Police’s (PNP) body camera project amid calls for transparency during police operations.
Under House Resolution No. 1480, the Makabayan bloc called for an investigation on the delay in the “purchase and use” of the police body cameras, pointing out that PhP334 million was allocated for such under the 2018 national budget.
It appears that more than two years since the budget for the body cameras for police was approved, the PNP has yet to complete the procurement and distribution of the devices meant to increase police accountability and transparency.
And opposition lawmakers have pointed out that immediate use of the budget for the purchase and distribution of the body cams could potentially curb further police abuse and excuses against civilians.
In this the PNP should realize that the continued delay in the implementation of body cameras used by police is a disservice to the people.
And the need for greater transparency in police operations and the call for use of body cameras by the police was once again highlighted following the recent cases of police brutality and mass killings in the country.
One of the incidents is the case of Sonya and Frank Gregorio, a mother and son who were shot to death in Tarlac by their neighbor, police staff sergeant Jonel Nuezca, last year in December.
Witnesses caught on video the police non-commissioned officer shooting the mother and son in the head point-blank, firing twice on each victim. Had it not been for the video evidence of the killing, citizens argue that the police might have used the ‘nanlaban’ (fighting back) defense, commonly used by cops to justify the killing of drug suspects in anti-illegal drug operations.
In April 2020, then PNP chief Lieutenant General Archie Gamboa said there is a delay in the delivery of body cameras due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In December 2020, Brigadier General Ildebrandi Usana, spokesperson for the PNP, said in an online briefing that the procurement of body cameras was underway and that the equipment would be distributed to police agents, once available.
Meanwhile, without body cams, police continue to abuse their authority. (AI/MTVN)