Lawmakers urge PNP to expedite purchase of body cams

Lawmakers in the House of Representatives on Tuesday urged the Philippine National Police to take action on various issues surrounding the agency’s use of body-worn cameras.

Among issues raised during the House committee on public order and safety’s motu propio inquiry into the procurement of body-worn cameras and other mission-essential equipment of the PNP was the procurement of cheaper cameras but with better specifications, as well as the need to expedite the PNP’s acquisition of the equipment.

The panel’s chair, Santa Rosa City Rep. Dan Fernandez, advised officers to opt for a low-cost but high-brand to make the most of their budget after finding that the PNP’s initial bodycam purchase cost P25,950.

“Maybe in our next purchase, make sure it is a better brand because if you look at the P26,000 price of what you procured, we can already buy the best brand,” Fernandez said in Filipino.

According to PNP Maj. Gen. Ronaldo Olay, body-worn cameras were given P333.994 million in the 2018 General Appropriations Act.

The chairman said there are cheaper cameras, such as GoPro, which costs only P20,000 but has high-end features. Fernandez even claimed he bought bodycams for just P8,000 during his time as a mayor.

Meanwhile, Bicol Saro Partylist Rep. Brian Raymund Yamsuan asked the PNP to expedite its bodycam procurement after learning that the existing procurement system would take nearly 20 years to provide these devices to the full uniformed force.

Given the backlog of at least 43,000 bodycams as of this year, Yamsuan said it would take at least two decades for the PNP to provide such devices to the entire police force.

“When we think about it, it will take 20 years before we can fill the backlog,” Yamsuan, a former assistant secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, told PNP officials. “It’s vital now especially, not only for the victim. The police are also victims. When you are wrongly accused, you also need to protect yourself.'”

The fact that the PNP’s proposed budget for 2024 includes funding for the purchase of only 2,000 bodycams prompted Yamsuan’s call.

“You should think about yourselves and enhancing the capability of your agency,” the lawmaker told the PNP.

The PNP currently possesses 2,696 body cameras that were purchased in 2021, Deputy Director of the PNP Directorate for Logistics Flynn Dongbo said.

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