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Gatchalian wants police body cams for drug war accountability

PASAY CITY, Philippines – Philippine National Police chief Ronald Dela Rosa answers queries from the press after appearing before the Senate body in relation to alleged extra judicial killings, in this file photo. Senator Win Gatchalian will be filing a bill mandating law enforcers to wear body-worn video cameras (BWVs), especially during anti-drug operations to ensure the integrity and legitimacy of its war on drugs. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

In response to the suspected murder of 17-year old Kian Loyd “Ian” delos Santos at the hands of police anti-illegal drugs operatives, Senator Win Gatchalian on Monday said he would file a bill requiring policemen to wear body cameras to collect video footage of all drug raids implemented by authorities.

Police representatives maintain that Delos Santos, an alleged drug pusher, was killed after opening fire at police during a legitimate police operation. However, CCTV footage recorded during the time of the raid indicates that Delos Santos may have been the victim of a summary execution.

Gatchalian, who pointed to the CCTV footage as potentially damning evidence against the police officers involved in the killing, said that recording video evidence of all anti-illegal drugs operations would be a powerful tool to ensure transparency and accountability in the execution of the government’s drug war.

“Footage collected from police body cams would provide concrete evidence to hold police scalawags administratively and criminally liable for violating their oath to serve and protect the people,” Gatchalian said.

The bill proposed by Gatchalian would require that all law enforcement personnel authorized to conduct anti-illegal drugs operations be equipped with body cameras during said operations. These cameras must be set to record footage during the entire operation, from deployment to the target until the conclusion of the mission.

To ensure strict compliance with the body cam policy, law enforcement personnel who engage in a raid, buy-bust operation, or other anti-illegal drugs operation without recording the required video footage will be summarily suspended pending investigation. Should the unrecorded operation result in the injury or death of a drug personality or any other individual, the erring policeman will be automatically dismissed from service and recommended for criminal prosecution.

Gatchalian also called on Police Director-General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa and other officials tasked to oversee the government’s war on drugs to support the measure, explaining that body cam footage could help restore public confidence in the integrity of the Philippine National Police and the legitimacy of its anti-illegal drugs operations.

“The video footage will separate the decent, law-abiding policemen from the scalawags. Policemen wrongly accused of abuses during police raids will be able to use the video evidence to clear their names, while the scalawags will be thrown in jail for their crimes,” he said.