Gatchalian pushes for police body cam fund in 2018 budget

By , on August 29, 2017

FILE PHOTO/ Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian (Photo: Senator Win Gatchalian/Facebook)
FILE PHOTO/ Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian (Photo: Senator Win Gatchalian/Facebook)

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian promised to push for the inclusion of funding for the implementation of the proposed body camera act for law enforcers and police anti-drug operatives during the Senate deliberations on the 2018 national budget.

Gatchalian said in a statement that a body camera program would address greater transparency and accountability in the government’s drug war.

“The public clamor for greater transparency and accountability in the government’s war on drugs can be immediately addressed by getting the body camera program up and running. The quickest way to do this is to appropriate funds for the program in the 2018 national budget,” said Gatchalian.

Gatchalian, however, said that high cost of procuring and maintaining policy body cameras would require realistic approach to the initial implementation of the program.

The senator proposed the prioritization of the Philippine National Police-Drug Enforcement Group (PNP-DEG) and its affiliated local Drug Enforcement Teams (DETs), the primary units designated to conduct anti-illegal drugs operations under PNP’s Oplan Double Barrel Reloaded, during the first wave of procurement.

Gatchalian added he would request the PNP to provide a detailed report on the number of people assigned to drug enforcement units in order to determine the necessary fund needed.

The senator stressed the controversial P900 million allocation for Oplan Double Barrel Reloaded in the proposed budget as a potential funding source.

He added that the budget for the program should be a priority because it will provide Filipino people immediate security.

“Wherever we need to source the funds, we’ll do it. The police body camera program will provide the Filipino people with immediate protection against police scalawags and their abuses of authority. It deserves to be a budgetary priority,” Gatchalian said.

After the death of 17-year-old Grade 11 student Kian Delos Santos, who was accused of being drug courier, lawmakers from both chambers of Congress filed separate bills that will require law enforcers to wear body cameras during operations.

Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III of ACTS-OFW party-list proposed the allocation of P200 million for the said program.

Bertiz called on other congressmen to pass the new law and call it “The Kian delos Santos Body Cam Act of 2017.”

Alongside Bertiz, Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon also filed a separate version ahead of Senators Richard Gordon, Francis Pangilinan and Sherwin Gatchalian in the Senate.

Gatchalian said “footage collected from police body cams would provide concrete evidence to hold police scalawags administratively and criminally liable.”

“The video footage will separate the decent, law-abiding policemen from the scalawags. Policemen wrongly accused of abuses during police raids will be able to use the video evidence to clear their names, while the scalawags will be thrown in jail for their crimes,” Gatchalian said.

“Should the unrecorded operation result in the injury or death of a drug personality or any other individual, the erring policemen will be automatically dismissed from service and recommended for criminal prosecution,” Gatchalian added.

Pangilinan, in addition, said a video record “will put an end to the radically divergent accounts of these police encounters and will protect the public from police abuses and misconduct.”

Gordon, who chairs the Senate committee on justice and human rights, proposed that all law enforcers, not only the PNP, be obliged to wear body cameras.

“The alarming number of abuses necessitates safeguards to protect the citizens of our country and to help in ending the culture of impunity within the ranks of our law enforcement agencies,” Gordon said.