To prevent unlawful arrests and planting of evidence as alleged in the case of peasant organizer Amanda Echanis, Senator Kiko Pangilinan wants the police to wear body cameras during police operations.
“Proteksyon ito ng publiko sa maaaring pang-aabuso ng kapangyarihan at karahasan ng mga pulis tulad ng pagtanim ng ebidensya, illegal na pag-aresto at maging ng pagpatay,” he said.
Earlier, together with Minority Senators Leila De Lima, Franklin Drilon, and Risa Hontiveros, Pangilinan called for the immediate release of Echanis and her one-month-old baby boy from detention after their arrest on December 2 for alleged illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
In a statement, the Departamento ng Filipino at Panitikan ng Pilipinas of the University of the Philippines-College of Arts and Letters, where she studied and finished a degree in creative writing, said Echanis was in Cagayan Valley doing relief operations when arrested.
Pangilinan called for the immediate passage of his Senate Bill 427 or The Body Camera Act which requires law enforcers to immediately activate these devices at the beginning of their operations or at the first reasonable opportunity when there is an immediate threat to life and safety.
These cameras shall not be deactivated until operations have been concluded, he said.
“Makakatulong ito sa mga lugar na walang CCTV. Proteksyon din ito sa mga pulis,” he said.
During the hearing for the 2021 national budget, the Philippine National Police mentioned that 2,600 body cams have been procured with a budget of P287 million. If the body cams passed the testing last 12 October 2020, they will be issued to police units in their drug operation activities.
“Bukod kay Amanda, libo-libo pa ang naaresto o namatay sa kamay ng mga police na maaaring tinaniman ng ebidensya. Hanggang ngayon, hindi pa rin nila nakakamtam ang hustisya,” Pangilinan said.
Senate Bill 427 provides that in specific instances, the camera may be deactivated to protect the privacy of occupants of private residences, crime victims, and anonymous reporter of crimes, among others, with their required consent.