MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police is asking Congress for P1.8 billion to equip its personnel with body cameras to wear during operations.
PNP Director General Ronald Dela Rosa said the amount, tucked in the proposed budget of the Department of Interior and Local Government for 2018, would be used to purchase 37,540 cameras.
He explained that the equipment would not only ensure transparency but could also serve as a defense for policemen accused of crimes.
“Malaking tulong talaga sa amin ‘yan kung kami magkakaroon, hindi lang (It would really be a great help if was acquire these, not only) for the purpose of transparency, kundi pang–depensa namin sa amin (but also for our defense) whenever we conduct police operations, para ‘pag kami ay na-charge or na-accuse (so if we are charged or accused) for whatever crime imputed against us, meron kaming depensa (we will have a defense),” Dela Rosa told lawmakers at the pre-plenary briefing for the DILG’s proposed 2018 budget.
Dela Rosa said he supported bills seeking to require the wearing of wear body cameras during police operations, among these a measure filed by Muntinlupa Representative Rufino Biazon.
“Bodycams serve as neutral eyewitnesses that will tell what actually transpired,” Biazon said in House Bill No. 2741.
The push for the use of body cameras came to the fore following the furor over alleged extrajudicial killings in the administration’s war on drugs, including the death of 17-year-old high school student Kian Delos Santos.
A barangay CCTV camera caught two policemen dragging Delos Santos before he was found dead from gunshots in Caloocan City.
For 2018, the DILG proposed a budget of P170.73 billion, the bulk of which — P131.26 billion — will go to the PNP. For next year, the administration’s anti-drug war will have an additional budget of P900 million.
The other agencies under the DILG are the Bureau of Fire Protection, which has been allotted P14.75 billion; Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, P14.29 billion; Local Government Academy, P249.06 million; National Police Commission, P1.65 billion; and Philippine Public Safety College, P1.78 billion.
The Office of the Secretary will have a budget of P6.73 billion.