GORDON BATS FOR ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY IN LAW ENFORCEMENT OPERATIONS

To ensure accountability and transparency in the conduct of law enforcement operations and improve the country's criminal justice system, Senator Richard J. Gordon proposed to require the use of body cameras for law enforcers conducting search and arrest operations and their vehicles used in the said operations installed with dash-board cameras.

Gordon filed Senate Bill No.1536 or the "Body Camera and Dashboard Camera for Law Enforcement Officers Act of 2017" which provides that all law enforcement officers with the authority to conduct searches and make arrests shall be required to use body and dashboard cameras to record events that occur while in the course of conducting a search or making an arrest.

"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," the chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights noted.

"The Bill of Rights enshrined in the 1987 Constitution provides that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. It also provides that the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable," he further explained.

The bill mandates that all law enforcement authorities, such as members of the Philippine National Police, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, among others, with authority to conduct searches and make arrests shall be required to wear a body camera and record the events that occur while in the course of conducting a search or making an arrest.

To prevent violations to a person's privacy, body cameras shall not be used surreptitiously. A law enforcement officer who is wearing a body camera shall, as far as practicable, notify the subject of the recording that he/she is being recorded by a body camera at the commencement of the encounter.

The bill also prohibits law enforcers from using the body cameras to record activity that is unrelated to a response to a call for service or a law enforcement or investigative encounter between a law enforcement officer and a member of the public.

Likewise, the bill also requires law enforcement agencies authorized by law to conduct searches and make arrests to install dashboard cameras to be used to record the events that occur while in the course of conducting a search or making an arrest. Such dashboard cameras shall be installed in a location and manner that maximizes the camera's ability to capture video footage of the law enforcement officer's activities.

The said bill, as well as other proposed bills on strengthening the Internal Affairs Service of the PNP, requiring regular reports of the PNP to a congressional oversight committee, the creation of police courts and strengthening the Peoples' Law Enforcement Boards (PLEBS), is meant to further improve the criminal justice system in the country.

Source: Senate of the Philippines

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