P5-million extortion case sabotages PNP's bid for body cameras

MANILA, Philippines – Initially promised to be rolled out in 2018, thousands of body cameras have been delayed for over a year already because of a P5-million extortion case, Philippine National Police (PNP) officer-in-charge Lieutenant General Archie Gamboa announced on Monday, November 11.

Gamboa said 3 police majors, namely Emerson Sales, Rholly Caraggayan, and Angel Beros have been sacked and are expected to face administrative and criminal complaints. Sales and Caraggayan have gone AWOL, the PNP said, while Beros remains in active service.

What happened? The PNP wanted to obtain at least 12,000 body cameras by June 2018 with a budget of P334 million.

Gamboa said that some time in 2018, a disqualified bidder of the body cameras approached him and complained about 3 cops asking for P5 million in exchange for a favorable procurement. Gamboa was then the Bids and Awards Committee chairman under the leadership of former police chief and now senator Ronald dela Rosa.

Why this matters. The body cameras are a hallmark policy of the PNP in its promise to reduce if not completely eradicate abusive killings by the police force in the unrelenting anti-drug campaign.

The budget was requested in 2017 after the killing of teenager Kian delos Santos was caught on tape by a CCTV camera. The case remains to be the only conviction of cops implicated in a "drug war" killing. The procurement of body cameras came with the promise of preventing police abuse in the ongoing anti-drug campaign. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.