PNP investigators want law to make it easy to get CCTV footage

AMID the difficulty being faced by investigators from the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies to immediately  secure CCTV footage from banks, hotels, shopping malls and other big corporations, the Philippine National Police leadership is seeking anew the Senate help in crafting a law that will compel business establishments to provide them CCTV recordings  within 24 hours from the commission of the crime.

PNP chief, Director General Oscar D. Albayalde particular said they will seek the help of former PNP chief-turned Senator Ronald ‘Bato’ M. dela Rosa to have a law passed.
He issued the statement in the wake of the ongoing probe into a robbery at the Metrobank’s branch in Santo Cristo, Binondo, Manila early last Thursday morning which he said has been hampered by the failure of bank officials to fully cooperate with investigators from the Manila Police District.

PNP officials have long called for the need to be provided surveillance footage by banks, malls, hotels and other private establishments within 24-hours from the commission of a crime just like in the past.

CCTV footages are also very useful in ferreting out rogues in uniform as proven in the investigation into the case of 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos, who was seen on video being dragged by policemen shortly before he was gunned down on August 16, 2017.

The footage became part of key evidence in the murder and torture charges filed against the policemen before the  Department of Justice. Other CCTV recordings were also crucial in identifying rogue law enforcers who committed abusive acts and crimes across the country including on EDSA where a group of scalawag policemen a few years ago were caught on video abducting a target at gunpoint.

“Two-way po kasi yun. Yung CCTV, it will either help the PNP to investigate or it will also pin down law enforcers who are doing the bad thing,” said newly-retired PNP Legal Service director, Brigadier General Manolo Ozaeta.

Many veteran police investigators have told the Journal Group that they have been ‘victims’ of uncooperative owners and security managers of  establishments over the years prompting them to seek court orders in order to get hold of the footage.

Officials said most of the time, investigators are being given the runaround by officials of a bank, a hotel or a shopping complex each time they try to secure a CCTV footage. “Going to the court is a process that takes much of our time and give criminals all the chance in the world to cover their tracks and escape,” one official said.

In some cases, CCTV recordings released by a commercial establishment after weeks or months to the police have literally become ‘useless’ in an investigation too.

The Journal Group was informed of many cases of ‘salisi’ or theft inside train and bus stations, restaurants, coffee shops, stores, hotels and shopping malls which could have been easily solved by the police had they been immediately given the much needed CCTV recordings.

At present, there have been suggestions for the Senate to pass a law that will allow police investigators to secure a copy of a CCTV recording they need in a crime investigation within 24 hours since it is essential in unmasking and arresting the suspects.

Apart from providing investigators their CCTV recordings within 24-hours, authorities have also suggested the need for all commercial establishments to install quality CCTV cameras that can identify suspects more easily, even at night.

There should also be a law that will make CCTV footages fully admissible as court evidence provided they have been authenticated or proven that the origin of the image has not been altered or tampered with to fit one’s purpose.