Thu. Jul 29th, 2021

The Supreme Court has issued a rule requiring all law enforcement officers to use body-worn cameras when implementing search and arrest warrants.

(Photo Courtesy: Manila Bulletin)

Supreme Court Administrative Matter 21-06-08-SC dated June 29, 2021 states that failure of law enforcers to comply will render inadmissible all evidence seized for the prosecution of the offense as contained in the search or arrest warrant.

Furthermore, law enforcers who manipulate cameras shall be liable for contempt of court, as the Supreme Court rule provides that law enforcers are required to wear at least one body camera and one alternative recording device.

If body cameras are unavailable, law enforcers can ask permission from a court that they are allowed to use an alternative device.

The Supreme Court rule states that the cameras’ video and audio recording functions shall be start as soon as law enforcement officers arrive at the place of arrest and shall only be deactivated once the arrest has been fully concluded, or after the arrested person is brought to the nearest detention facility.

“Failure to observe the requirement for using body-worn cameras or alternative recording devices shall render the arrest unlawful or render the evidence obtained inadmissible,” the Supreme Court said.

The use of body cameras by law enforcement officers was aggressively pushed by Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar.

“In the past, we just say it may be possible. Now, it is really possible as the Supreme Court issued guidelines on the use of videos from body cameras as court evidence,” Eleazar said earlier.

He also thanked former PNP chiefs, including now Senator Ronald Dela Rosa, for initiating the review for the procurement of the best body cameras up to his predecessor Debold Sinas, who signed the final papers of the delivery.

He also thanked the Supreme Court for continuously assisting the PNP in coming up with the guidelines for the presentation of the body camera data as court evidence.

“The procurement and eventually the use of body camera-worn system is a tribute not only to Kian delos Santos who died of police abuse in Caloocan City but also to the policemen whose ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty were tainted by claims of extra-judicial killings, planting of evidence and other unfair allegations,” Eleazar said.

He added that a body camera will also ensure that there will be no violation in police operating procedures or human rights abuses.

It will also protect PNP personnel from malicious and baseless charges.

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