Respect for privacy is core issue as Bukidnon mulls CCTV ordinance

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/28 May) —  Bukidnon’s provincial board is set to pass an ordinance requiring certain establishments to install close circuit television (CCTV) cameras to deter crimes, board member Jay Albarece told MindaNews.

“The installation of CCTV and other monitoring devices may possibly serve as effective deterrence to crimes and provide valuable assistance to law enforcers in the identification, apprehension and prosecution of suspects,” he said in his proposed ordinance.

Albarece proposed that all banks, pawnshops and other lending firms or institutions, gasoline stations, malls and supermarkets, 24 hours grocery or convenience stores, bus terminals, entertainment places, internet cafes, restaurants, schools, cathedrals and hotels, inns and lodging houses berequired to set-up CCTV and other monitoring devices in their business premises or places.

The establishments, according to the draft, shall install or position the CCTV camera or cameras in such a way that “all persons entering and leaving the establishment as well as those standing or passing by are monitored and recorded.”

But Albarece said the provincial board has to put the ordinance on hold pending public consultation.

The provincial board has scheduled a public hearing on June 3.

He said the ordinance contains provisions similar to other CCTV ordinances.

“It’s like the CCTV laws of other cities but with more provisions to protect the privacy of persons caught in recordings,” he added.

Among the privacy provision is for owners or managers of establishments with CCTV to ensure confidentiality of the CCTV recordings “to protect the rights of individuals to privacy”.

“Unless pursuant to an order issued by a competent court, the CCTV recordings shall not be re-viewed, copied, reproduced, shared, published, uploaded to the internet or distributed by any person to anybody,” one of the sections of the proposed ordinance said.

The proposed ordinance also provides penalties for violations such as:  failure to keep the confidentiality, failure of the owner or manager to turn on or operate the CCTV, failure to present the CCTV master tape or file whenever so required by a competent court, keeping of CCTV recordings in more than one tape or file by the establishment, and failure of the owner or manager to keep the master tape or file in a secured place or storage in the establishment.

The proposed ordinance also prohibits copying, reproducing, sharing, publishing, uploading or downloading to and from the internet, distributing or showing the master tape or file by the owner or manager to other persons except upon lawful order of a competent court.

The penalties range from P2,000 to P5,000 based on the number of offenses.

Albarece noted the “alarming rise in incidents of violent crimes in the cities and municipalities in the province in the past months.”

He added that “many of these crimes remain unsolved and their perpetrators still free and unidentified.”

The proposed legislation asserts that the installed CCTV camera or cameras should not be just for compliance.

“It shall be operated, as far as practicable, for 24 hours every day and the recording thereof kept in only one master tape or file which shall be kept confidential in a secured place or storage in the establishment.

Albarece noted that so far there has been no objection from the other board members.

During a public hearing initiated by a Malaybalay city councilor following the slaying of a Bukidnon State University (BSU) instructor, several sectors proposed that CCTV cameras be required in the city.

BSU put up its own CCTV cameras earlier this year. The system was tested last week when the cameras caught the image of a man who posed as cashier personnel during the opening of the enrollment. He managed to escape and cart away at least P12,000. He conned four first year college students who were reported to have evaded the long queues at the university cashier.

The captured photo of the suspect was posted in one of the lobbies in the university. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)