SENATORS on Tuesday questioned the expensive body-worn cameras purchased by the police when cheaper options are available that would allow more units to be distributed to cops nationwide.

Senator Ronald M. dela Rosa, a former national police chief, cited during Tuesday’s budget hearing that 2,696 units of body-cameras were bought, costing P125,000 each as a part of a system.

Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian said that these were very costly considering that the highest-priced unit of the GoPro brand, which record accurately, was only about P30,000.

“How do we stretch the peso, especially in the age of the pandemic?” said Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” M. Angara, who chairs the Finance committee.

He noted that the cost-effectiveness of the purchase will have to be assessed and asked the Philippine National Police to submit documents justifying the procurement.   

“If you look at the Supreme Court circular, it was very clear that in the absence of a body-worn camera, a law enforcer, either utilizing a search warrant or serving a warrant of arrest, can utilize back-up devices that would serve and suffice the evidentiary purposes,” Senator Francis N. Tolentino told the hearing.

He added that the Supreme Court would probably allow mobile phone units to serve as back-up cameras.

Under the guidelines  issued by the High Court on the use of body-worn cameras for serving warrants, alternative recording devices may be used with permission from the court.   

Police chief Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar said the initial procurement plan for body-worn cameras was intended only for police in cities. More than 1,500 municipal police stations were not issued body-worn cameras. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan

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