THE Philippine National Police (PNP) still has P3.7 billion it can use for the purchase of body and car-mounted cameras for its personnel.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said on Monday that the PNP need not wait for its 2018 budget allotment because it still has P3.7 billion in unused funds under its unprogrammed appropriation for 2017 that could be used to acquire this essential equipment.
Recto explained that for this year’s budget, the PNP has P5.6 billion modernization fund and of this amount, the budget department has already released P1,901,472,364.“This leaves a balance of P3.732 billion, enough to buy a sizeable quantity of body cams and dashboard cameras for police cars,” Recto said.
Based on the Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) for P1,901,472,364 the budget department released to the PNP, P132 million for the procurement of 103 light transport vehicles, P245.2 million for 126 personnel carriers, P343.4 million for 38 rubber boats, P200 million for 320 5.56mm light machine guns and P252.4 million for 231 7.62 mm light machine guns.
Also funded by the SARO are 2,248 waistcoat vests (P152.9 million), 11,245 undershirt “level 3-A” vests (P382.3 million), 160 sets of base radio (P88.5 million); two forklifts (P1.85 million), 1 lot of “civil disturbance management” equipment (P47.3 million).
Recto said, however, that the PNP did not include the cameras in the wish list it sent to the budget department in two letters dated July 13 and 24 this year.
He said that PNP should have included body cams in its request considering that there was already a clamor for body cams that time.
The PNP also has a P24.56-million allotment for 48 “explosive detection dogs,” with a unit price of P511,672, Recto said.
“I am not yet ready to pass value judgement on that purchase but a half-million-peso dog should be as good as Scooby Doo,” the senator said.
Renewed calls to equip policemen with body cameras had been made in response to the killing of 17-year old Kian Loyd delos Santos by members of the Caloocan City police who are now facing murder charges.
Several lawmakers in the lower and upper chambers have filed proposed measures requiring all law enforcement personnel involved in the anti-illegal drugs operations to be equipped with body cameras during operations to ensure transparency and accountability in the implementation of the government’s war of drugs.
However, PNP Chief Ronald de la Rosa said that instead of equipping policemen with body- and car-mounted cameras, he would rather use the available funds to provide his men with additional weapons especially if the cameras are only to be used to satisfy critics of the government’s anti-drug operations.
But in a recent interview, the PNP chief seems to have a change of heart and is now seeing the move to equip police office with body cams a means to catch rogue policmen.
By providing police officers with their own body cameras, the institution would no longer need to rely on lampposts and close circuit television cameras every time questions are raised about their operations, De la Rosa said.
Under the General Appropriations Act for 2017, unprogrammed funds can only be released if revenue collections have been topped or if supported by new loans.