Public office is a public trust, and therefore should be transparent and accountable to the people at all times.
Thus stressed Senator Pia S. Cayetano, who has filed a measure that will mandate the installation of closed circuit television (CCTV) systems in all government offices throughout the country.
Called the ‘Surveillance Camera for Government Establishments Act’ (SBN 503), Cayetano said her proposal seeks to capture on video the day-to-day transactions of government offices, especially those rendering frontline services.
She added that CCTVs will help deter corrupt practices, such as public officials asking for kickbacks or bribes to hasten government transactions.
Further, SBN 503 is aligned with government’s commitments to attain Goal 16 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which is to build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels.
“Ridding our institutions of corruption means better quality social services, which would help the country achieve all SDGs by 2030,” she noted.
The bill mandates surveillance cameras with audio recording technology to be installed and maintained within the premises of government offices, especially in the country’s immigration counters, land transportation offices, customs, internal revenue offices, permits offices, and land transportation offices.
The surveillance cameras shall always be switched on and recording on a 24/7 basis. Security employees or personnel shall be specifically tasked to monitor the video feeds.
Meanwhile, areas requiring privacy like restrooms, shower rooms, changing rooms, and the like are exempted from the installation of CCTV cameras. Concerned government offices shall also prohibit any use, viewing, disclosure, or publication of video recordings that are not within the mandate of the proposed measure.
The use of video records shall only be allowed in specific instances where they are needed: for the investigation or prosecution of a punishable offense; for a pending criminal or civil proceeding; for the avoidance of an imminent threat to persons or property; or to ascertain the identity of a criminal perpetrator.
The senator’s proposal is in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s challenge for Congress to help end corruption in government, a call which he reiterated during his fourth State of the Nation Address.
The President earlier made the same suggestion to install CCTV cameras in government offices to monitor the activities of employees and help avoid corruption. #