IN 2012, due to mounting complaints by citizens, the Philippine National Police (PNP) released the guidelines in conducting checkpoints for its personnel.
Just recently, a call center employee complained that he was bodily searched by personnel of the Mandaue City Police Office that conducted a checkpoint in broad daylight in barangay Subangdaku. He said the police also “forcibly opened” his bag. He claimed that his rights was violated. At times, the police forced some motorcycle riders to open the utility box of their motorcycles.
No less than Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Jose Mario Espino and Commission on Human Rights (CHR) 7 Director Arvin Odron said that what the police violated the PNP guidelines in conducting checkpoints. If a formal complaint is lodged, the PNP and the CHR are willing to look into it.
The police released a list of guidelines so that the general public may know whether or not the police checkpoints conducted in their area are legitimate and following standard operating procedures. The advisory will also serve as a warning to erring law enforcers and eliminate illegal checkpoints.
Here’s the guidelines based in the PNP manual:
--Checkpoints must be well-lighted, properly identified and manned uniformed personnel.
--Upon approach, slow down, dim headlights and turn on cabin lights.
--Never step out of the vehicle.
--Lock all doors of vehicles during inspection since only visual search is allowed.
--Never submit to physical and body search.
--Motorists are not required to open their glove compartment, trunk or bags.
--Be courteous but firm in answering, assert your rights, have a presence of mind and do not panic.
--Keep your driver’s license and car registration handy.
--Be ready to use your mobile phones at any time, speed dial emergency numbers.
--Report violations immediately.
In some rare instances though the police are authorized to conduct a thorough search of you and your vehicle if:
--They have search warrant for you and your vehicle.
--They see suspicious objects or markings on you or your vehicle such as weapons, illegal drugs or substances, broken glasses/window and other contraband that makes you or your car suspicious.
--The police officers conducting the checkpoint have been alarmed that you and your vehicle had been involved in a crime.
If ever you passed by a checkpoint and are required a thorough inspection of you and your vehicle for the reasons mentioned above, make sure that you inspect the warrant (if ever there is one presented) for its authenticity and have witness ready before you allow the police to do search on you and your vehicle.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on September 27, 2017.
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