SC Assures PNP that Rules on Use of Body-Worn Cameras Out Soon

July 2, 2021

The Supreme Court today assured the Philippine National Police (PNP) that it will release soon the rules governing the use of body-worn cameras to aid law enforcers with the requirements in the application for arrest, search, and seizure warrants. The rules also provide for conditions which judges must require whenever they grant applications for warrants, and which law enforcers must comply with.

During a courtesy call on the High Court by PNP officers led by PNP Chief Lt. Gen. Guillermo T. Eleazar, Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo assured that the Court, in crafting the rules on the body- worn cameras, took into account the delicate balancing act of ensuring an individual’s constitutional rights vis-à-vis arrest, search, and seizure.

“We assure you that the courts will do its part in ensuring that the constitutional rights guaranteed under the Constitution, as well as your responsibilities and duties as law enforcers, are properly considered and balanced,” Chief Justice Gesmundo said. He added: “We try to achieve that balance so that the end goal is we do not disregard the constitutional rights of people, but at the same time, the law enforcers are also given adequate leeway to effectively discharge your functions. That’s the main goal of this special rule that we are coming out.”

Chief Justice Gesmundo said that on the basis of the working draft of the proposed rules submitted by Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, the members of the Court individually and collectively gave their comments and suggestions. This was to strike a delicate balance between protecting an individual’s constitutional rights on arrest, search and seizure, and ensuring the unhampered operational requirements of law enforcers in the execution of laws.

The Chief Justice further said that the Court will make an arrangement soonest with the Philippine Judicial Academy, the SC’s judicial education arm, to provide the training of all those involved in

the implementation of these rules. He added that the PNP may also want to send participants to this training.

Joining the Chief Justice in person or via online during the courtesy call were Justices Leonen, Rosmari D. Carandang (joined via videoconferencing), Rodil V. Zalameda, Samuel H. Gaerlan, and Jhosep Y. Lopez, as well as Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez and SC Spokesperson Atty. Brian Keith F. Hosaka.

PNP Chief Eleazar was accompanied by M/Gen. Arnel Escobal of the PNP Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management, B/Gen. Ferdinand Fuentes of the Police Security and Security Group, B/Gen. Albert Ferro of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Col. Thomas Valmonte, and Col. Gregory Bogñalbal. This is the second time that the Justices of the Supreme Court met with the PNP. The first was on April 22, 2021, when the SC and PNP virtually met to discuss follow on actions regarding the March 23, 2021 statement of the Court. The said statement highlighted the urgent need to use body cameras as well as serious concerns regarding reports of threats, harassments and killings of lawyers and judges.