THE Philippine National Police (PNP) this year will start using top-of-the-line Body-Worn Cameras (BWC) to record their day-to-day operations against criminals and terrorists and erase doubts about the conduct of their ‘frontliners’ in the war on drugs, criminality, corruption and terror, officials told the Journal Group.
The PNP chief said that once the end-users complete their training, they will be required to wear the BWC system specially in the conduct of anti-narcotics raids, operations against known terrorists and rogues in uniform and even regular anti-criminality checkpoints in Metro Manila and other urban parts of the country.
The BWCs will also serve as a tool of the police in defending themselves from harassment suits since it will record everything that is being done by the officer wearing it during the entire duration of the operation.
In Camp Crame, the PNP Headquarters Support Service headed by Brigadier Gen. Arthur V. Bisnar has also requested for some BWCs that will be used by its guards strictly enforcing camp rules and regulations specifically when it comes to parking. The strict enforcement of Camp Crame rules and other policies ordered by Sinas has earned the base policemen the ire mostly of retired police officials who are not used to the new parking rules inside the PNP National Headquarters.
Using BWCs actually promote better transparency and accountability in the PNP and thus, further improve the citizenry’s trust and confidence in the police force. In more advanced countries across the globe, studies showed that BWCs resulted in more positive interactions between the police and the community and even made people feel safer and more importantly, reduced complaints from the citizens.
First, video footage captured by the BWC during a police operation will help confirm the nature of events and support accounts given by the policemen involved as well as witnesses.
Second, a policeman wearing a BWC is expected to get much higher respect and compliance from the public since it is a fact that any person often change their behavior towards the police when they are informed they are being recorded.
This will prevent others from making fabricated complaints in order to get back at officers accosting or arresting them for breaking the law.
Third, the use of BWCs may lead to much faster resolution of complaints from the public and criminal and administrative charges against the police since the video recording will prove the true facts of the case and defend the police from allegations of excessive use of force and other misconduct.
It is a fact that police are always the subject of scrutiny from the public and thus need a tool that will defend them from inconsistent accounts of persons they have arrested and their witnesses.
Fourth, video captured by these BWCs will help corroborate the facts of any encounter with armed criminals and result in more arrests and prosecution since videos won’t tell a lie.
Last but not the least, the BWC system is expected to further advance professionalism in the police force which is undergoing a massive transformation program. This is because video footage from the system can provide officials with opportunities to implement new strategies and assess their anti-criminality programs.
In a report to Sinas, PNP Deputy Director for Logistics, Brigadier Gen. Herminio S. Tadeo Jr. said that the EVI Distribution Inc. represented by Irene T. Laus won the contract to supply the PNP with 2,696 units of the BWC system.
The Approved Budget for the Contract sourced from the 2018 General Appropriations Act was P333,999,894.19. Following a bidding, the EVI Distribution won the right to provide the PNP with the BWC system with an Approved Contract Price of P288,888,888.00.
Tadeo said that the Notice of Award and Notice to Proceed were given to the winning bidder on December 5, 2019 and December 23, 2019 respectively with the Supply Contract given on December 18 of the same year.
The company was originally scheduled to deliver the items on May 11 last year but requested some extensions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 1st extension was requested last July 10 followed by a 2nd extension on October 8, 2020.
The items were finally delivered last September 21. Tadeo said that two weeks ago, a BWC System Training was conducted online among its end-users from Police Regional Offices 1 to the Bangsamoro Administrative Region police force. At present , there is an ongoing installation of the system, he added.
According to PNP Director for Logistics, Major Gen. Angelito A. Casimiro, the balance of P45,111,006.19 will be used to procure other PNP materials. The BWC system will be monitored by Regional Management Centers from Police Regional Offices 3, 4-A, 7, 11 and the National Capital Region Police Office.
In Region 3, there will be a total of 464 users followed by 432 in PRO4-A; 624 in PRO7; 528 in PRO11 and 648 in Metro Manila.
Former PNP chief-turned Senator Ronald ‘Bato’ M. dela Rosa earlier lamented the slow delivery of the BWCs for the police saying the promise that it is already up for delivery has spanned five top cops-from him to Sinas-but they have yet to see the equipment.
“Gusto kong makakita ng legitimate anti-drug operation ng PNP na may suot na body camera because that is a big clamor from the public,” he said.