Senator Win Gatchalian believes law enforcement authorities should have access within 24 hours to information from Closed-Circuit Television Videos (CCTVs) to speed up criminal investigations.
Gatchalian said the timely release of CCTV images and recordings to law enforcement agencies, like the Philippine National Police, and investigative bodies, such as the National Bureau of Investigation, would help prevent the tampering of evidence and guarantee the effective prosecution of criminal cases against lawbreakers.
“The use of CCTV footage has become a game-changer in our pursuit of justice for victims of crimes. We must make sure that our law enforcers enjoy the maximum benefits of this technology, and use it to further improve our criminal investigation and prosecution processes,” Gatchalian added.
The senator said CCTV access should be granted even in the absence of court approval because, he pointed out, “court proceedings on requests for access to CCTV footages take a long time.”
“If it is clear that a crime has been committed, the police and other persons in authority should have access to the tapes within 24 hours because in filing cases, time and evidence are of essence,” Gatchalian said, as he recalled instances during his tenure as mayor of Valenzuela City when investigators failed to successfully prosecute criminal cases. Often, this was because they failed to present sufficient evidence, such as CCTV images or recordings, which could have bolstered their cases against the suspects.
Gatchalian acknowledged government “needs a very strict law” to address concerns of privacy rights and police abuses.
Gatchalian has already filed Senate Bill No. 988, which seeks to “impose the parameters and provide the guidelines in CCTV installation and access to its recordings to help ensure practice standards that are responsible, and necessary to foster confidence in the use of the system.”
Under the proposed legislation, only authorized persons shall be allowed to use, view, copy or disclose images and recordings from CCTV footages, which shall be used to “determine whether an offense has been committed against a person or property and to ascertain the identity of the perpetrator and the manner by which the crime was committed.”