Four chiefs later, the Philippine National Police (PNP) still doesn’t have its long-awaited body cameras.
This was confirmed in a Senate hearing on Tuesday, January 26, as former police chief and now senator Ronald dela Rosa asked how many have been deployed.
In response, PNP Finance Service chief Brigadier General Herminio Tadeo said: “They’re for delivery already, sir. We will inform you about the status once they are delivered.”
Tadeo did not specify when the cameras are expected to arrive. Sounding impatient, Dela Rosa urged the PNP to “expedite” the delivery of the cameras. He pointed out that there was “strong public clamor” for it.
The body cameras were promised to arrive in 2018 by Dela Rosa himself, and the PNP had set aside P287 million for their purchase. Dela Rosa was PNP chief in 2017 when Caloocan policemen murdered 17-year-old Kian delos Santos. They were caught on CCTV camera dragging Delos Santos in the neighborhood before he was killed in a dark alley.
Dela Rosa was succeeded by Oscar Albayalde, Archie Gamboa, Camilo Cascolan, and then Debold Sinas. The cameras have not yet arrived since.
The procurement of the cameras was first delayed in 2017 because the PNP had no budget allocation to purchase them that year. It was also delayed in 2018, after a disqualified bidder for the body camera procurement alleged that 3 policemen asked for P5 million so he could win the deal. The pandemic, which caused global travel and delivery restrictions, further delayed the arrival of the body cameras.
The use of body cameras is seen as a deterrent to police abuse especially in anti-drug operations marred by allegations of human rights violations. – Rappler.com
Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.