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CCTV files should be preserved as evidence vs crimes – De Lima

Images and recordings from recorded closed circuit television (CCTV) may be used not only as possible leads in investigating a crime but also, most especially, as evidence in building up charges against criminals, Senator Leila M. de Lima said today.

De Lima said these images and recordings from CCTV should be preserved, protected and authenticated to allow law enforcement authorities to access them for possible leads and evidence in the investigation and prosecution of crimes.

"It is incumbent upon us to enact a law to preserve the recorded video as soon as an incident within the vicinity of the security camera is identified," she said.

Last March 7, De Lima filed Senate Bill 1364 which seeks to establish a "nationally-maintained redundant storage" for all images and recordings from CCTV which the law enforcement agencies can use as leads and evidence in the campaign against crimes.

"As government offices and private establishments are usually unable to store recorded data for a long time, it is prudent that the data, which can be used as evidence for criminal prosecution, be stored in a nationally maintained redundant storage system," she added.

Known as "Security Camera Evidence Preservation Act," the measure authorizes the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) to "establish and maintain a registry of all security cameras owned and operated by government offices and covered private establishments."

"The DILG and NICA shall institute measures to preserve the confidentiality of this registry," the former justice secretary pointed out.

SB 1364 also proposes that all government offices and covered private establishments who own and operate security cameras shall be required to maintain recorded data for a period of two months from the date of recording.

Covered under the measure are all national, regional and local government offices and covered private establishments, such as supermarkets, malls, theme parks, casinos, theaters, entertainment centers, convention centers, and hotels.

In addition, the bill proposes that officers-in-charge (Security OICs) of the security of cameras and their respective data will be directed to preserve and surrender any requested footage to the DILG and NICA, within 24 hours, upon receipt of an incident report filed by any law enforcement agency.

Under the measure, any person who willfully or through reckless imprudence destroys recorded data required by the measure to be preserved shall be penalized between six months to 12 years or a fine between P50,000 and P100,000 or both.

"Criminality is an ever-present threat to our way of life. It requires from us unwavering vigilance. As a means to continuously monitor our surroundings and protect ourselves from criminal elements, we have embraced the tools on modern technology," De Lima said.

"The latest advances in video capture technology has allowed us to automatically video record events in real time. Recent events have shown that security cameras have been instrumental in recording criminal activities," she added.

De Lima noted that the videos recorded from security cameras are most of the times in danger of being destroyed by criminal elements who seek to remove any evidences of their participation in the crime.

Law enforcement agencies have installed CCTV cameras in strategic areas in Metro Manila and other public establishments to deter the commission of crime and, if committed, to assist in their solution.

Some local government units have also required business establishments in their areas to install as a requirement before they can be issued with license to operate.

Source: Senate of the Philippines

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