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Manila Bulletin - 2021-05-05

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Lacson: Use of body cameras by police does not violate citizens' privacy rights

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By MARIO B. CASAYURAN

The use of body cameras by police personnel does not violate the right to privacy of citizens, Senator Panfilo M. Lacson said on Tuesday, May 4. “If the Philippine National Police (PNP) leadership has privacy concerns over the use of body cameras for police personnel, I would suggest that it direct the PNP Legal Service to read the Supreme Court ruling on Ople vs Torres (GR No 127685), regarding “reasonable expectation of privacy test,” Lacson stressed. According to the High Court, the test determines whether a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy and whether the expectation has been violated, he added. “I happen to know this from institutional memory when I was being interpellated by Senator Leila de Lima on the bill amending Republic Act 4200, known as the AntiWiretapping Act, involving the issue of an individual’s right to privacy,” Lacson said. Lacson, chairman of the Senate national defense committee, was a former PNP chief. De Lima, on the other hand, was a Justice secretary during the Benigno S. Aquino administration. “For example, a CCTV camera installed in a public place may be a good source of evidence since a malefactor captured by the camera while committing a crime will fail the ‘reasonable expectation of privacy test’. The same is true with the body camera,” Lacson explained. “Either way, the policeman committing an abuse in the exercise of his duties as well as the crime offender cannot use the ‘right to privacy’ as their defense since either of them will fail the test,” he added.

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