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Gatchalian rejects PNP drug chief’s ‘God Cam’ proposal

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Senator Win Gatchalian chats with ranking officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) after an event in Camp Crame in this file photo, Aug. 2016. Gatchalian recently reiterated the need for body-worn video cameras for police officers as part of the government’s all-out campaign against illegal drugs, following the PNP Drug Enforcement Group (DEFG) director Chief Supt. Joseph Adnol’s “absolutely absurd” remarks on the technology. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

God cam over bod cam? “Absolutely absurd” according to Senator Win Gatchalian, who renewed on Friday his call to equip policemen with body cameras to ensure the bloodless but effective implementation of the government’s all-out campaign against illegal drugs.

The senator was reacting to the statement of Philippine National Police (PNP) Drug Enforcement Group (DEG) Director Chief Superintendent Joseph Adnol, who was quoted by reporters as saying: “For me, there really is no need for a body cam, our camera as policemen is God, ‘yun ang pinaka-camera natin na tinitingnan tayo.

“The fear of God alone was clearly not enough to prevent police scalawags from committing extrajudicial killings during the PNP’s previous drug war operations. It is absolutely absurd to suggest that the fear of divine retribution in the afterlife would be more effective than body cameras in addressing police impunity and holding dirty cops accountable for their crimes during our life here on Earth,” Gatchalian said.

A staunch supporter of the Duterte administration’s aggressive crackdown on illegal drugs, the freshman senator from Valenzuela City has nevertheless been critical of the PNP’s heavy-handed approach to neutralizing drug personalities.

In response to the public outcry over the apparent murders of 17-year old Kian Delos Santos and other minors during what police claimed to be legitimate anti-drug operations, Gatchalian filed a bill last August to make the use of body cameras part of the standard operating procedure of law enforcement authorities.

Senate Bill No. 1576, otherwise known as the Police On-Body Cam Act, would equip PNP personnel and drug enforcement officers (DEOs) of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency with body cameras and require them to take video and audio recordings of anti-illegal drug and criminality operations in full. The recordings could then be presented as evidence during administrative, criminal, and civil proceedings concerning any operation tainted with alleged irregularities.

“Instead of playing the ‘he said, she said’ game, the National Police Commission and the courts will be armed with concrete evidence to fire police scalawags and send them straight to Bilibid,” Gatchalian said.

However, he emphasized that the Policy On-Body Cam Act would also help the PNP regain the public’s trust and exonerate police officers wrongly accused of abuses.

“I believe that the good and honorable cops of our police force outnumber the scalawags. Unfortunately, the scalawags are dragging down the reputation of the entire organization. The body camera policy will separate the good cops from the bad, and the people will be able to sleep easier at night, knowing that there is an efficient system in place to hold bad cops accountable for abusing their authority,” he said.