Uphold human rights, PNP chief tells police on checkpoints-A A +A
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
AMID the ongoing probe on the Atimonan incident wherein policemen manning a checkpoint reportedly committed procedural lapses, the Philippine National Police (PNP) reminded its personnel that human rights should be respected in the conduct of checkpoint operations during the election period.
Director General Alan Purisima, PNP chief, said the police force must promote and protect human rights because "this task lies at the very core of maintaining peace and order, ensuring public safety, and upholding the rule of law in the country."
"Human Rights protection is the first business of law enforcement," Purisima said in a statement.
All PNP units were directed to ensure that the personnel manning the checkpoints for the election period are properly briefed and oriented prior to deployment with emphasis on proper conduct and behavior.
Purisima instructed the PNP directorial staff to ensure among PNP personnel the proper education and orientation on human rights values, including basic protocols in citizen contact that must be observed by all police personnel, especially by frontline PNP units that are in direct contact with the public.
Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr., PNP spokesman, said the basic rule in checkpoints is that these operations must be legitimate and covered by appropriate official orders from higher authorities.
He said in checkpoint operations, search of vehicles for weapons is limited only to visual search under the "plain view doctrine."
However, police may conduct further warrantless search in checkpoints under "specifically justifiable circumstances."
"While we recognize the importance of checkpoints in law enforcement operations, it is equally important that we must respect the basic rights of citizens," Cerbo said.
The PNP earlier reminded the general public regarding the advisory on the 10 rules on police checkpoints:
1. Checkpoint must be well-lit, properly identified and manned by uniformed personnel.
2. Upon approach, slow down, dim headlights and turn on cabin lights. Never step out of the vehicle.
3. Lock all doors. Only visual search is allowed.
4. Do not submit to a physical or body search.
5. You are not obliged to open the glove compartment, the trunk or bags.
6. Ordinary/routine questions may be asked. Be courteous but firm with answers.
7. Assert your rights, have presence of mind and do not panic.
8. Keep your driver's license and car registration handy and within reach.
9. Be ready to use your cell phone at any time. Save an emergency number on your speed dial.
10. Report violations immediately. Your actions may save others.
The PNP said this advisory guides motorists on how to deal with authorities at checkpoints with the objective to ensure proper searches and seizures to avoid violation of human rights.
"The advisory also serves as a warning to erring law enforcers. The PNP wants to eliminate illegal checkpoints," the PNP said.
Last week, the PNP released the initial results of the fact-finding probe on the Atimonan incident and disclosed lapses in the conduct of checkpoint operations such as the lack of uniformed policemen, proper signages, and marked vehicles. (Emmanuel Louis Bacani/Sunnex)