'CCTVs cannot replace the police'

By Kathlyn dela Cruz, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Nov 21 2012 12:33 AM | Updated as of Nov 21 2012 08:33 AM

MANILA, Philippines -- Many crimes are now being caught on closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras. While some people say that installing more CCTV cameras along roads and in commercial establishments helps deter crimes, some say these gadgets may lead to a lazy police force.

But Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson, disputes this. He said the use of CCTV cameras complements their crime prevention efforts.

"Our anti-criminality strategy is still anchored on crime prevention, meaning maximum police visibility and presence. We are not withdrawing police patrol just because of the presence of CCTVs," he said in an interview on ANC's Talkback with Tina Palma.

Likewise, CCTV expert Abet Catangui said, "Police can look at it as a tool. It's not something that replaces the police, but is a good tool for forensics."

"We appreciate its use on crime prevention and deterrence. Most likely, it will deter the criminals from doing crimes since they know they are being monitored," Cerbo said.

"It assists our investigators in identifying culprits. The efficiency rating (of PNP) to solve crimes has improved with the use of CCTV cameras," he added.

Solving traffic incidents

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Traffic Discipline Office Director Yves Gonzalez, meanwhile, said they use CCTV cameras to monitor traffic as it shows real-time traffic conditions. They are also used to monitor floods in Metro Manila areas.

"It improves the efficiency of MMDA in solving traffic problems and in clearing traffic incidents," he said.

Gonzalez added, "Whenever we see an incident happening on the road, the CCTVs provide us a good insight on what is actually happening. If there's a crime, we call the police and tell them 'our camera is recording this crime that is being committed right now' so PNP sends police to the area."

Gonzalez cited the case of the "bukas-kotse kids" along Guadalupe. With the help of CCTV cameras, the MMDA was able to monitor the kids' modus operandi and then relay that information to police authorities, he said.

CCTV camera footage as evidence in court

Gonzalez also noted that CCTV camera footage can be presented as evidence in courts.

"These are evidence that can be presented in court. An MMDA employee can just authenticate (the data)," he said.

Cerbo cited the case of ABS-CBN part-time talent and model Julie Ann Rodelas, whose body was found in Cubao last November 6.

He said they used as evidence footage from a CCTV camera installed inside a McDonald's branch where the victim reportedly bought food before she was killed.

Gonzalez also claimed that installation of CCTV cameras in establishments do not invade people's privacy.

"It's a public place. The expectation of privacy in a public place is much lower. But, for example, if it's inside a gym locker, nobody installs a CCTV camera there," Gonzalez said.

'No CCTV, No Business Permit'

With the new "No CCTV, No Business Permit" ordinance, business establishments in Quezon City will be required to install CCTV cameras before they can secure business permits starting January next year.

Quezon City Councilor Joseph Juico, author of the ordinance, however clarified that not all business establishments will be covered by the new policy.

Establishments such as banks, money changers, restaurants, malls and gas stations with a minimum transaction of P50,000 a day or with a clientele of at least 200 people a day are the only ones to be required to install CCTV cameras.

Juico said that the camera's resolution should at least be 640 x 480.

This type of camera costs about P2,000, Catangui said. He also said a digital video recorder used to receive and save all camera footage costs about P6,000.

With the new policy, establishments are also required to retain the videos for at least 30 days.

After the 30-day limit, Juico said, "If there's no use for it, the business establishment can set it aside or destroy it."

Juico said businessmen were actually very supportive of his proposed policy.

"There were no violent reactions. They were very supportive of this because it's also a way to entice the clientele to come to them because it's also for security purposes. They were very cooperative," he said.