Guns and checkpoints-A A +A
By DP Limlingan
Monday, January 14, 2013
LAST Sunday, Resolution No. 9385 in pursuance to Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code took effect. It’s the official start of the election season. More familiar is the gun ban that signals the start of yet another election fad.
At the start of the New Year 2013, I have tackled in this column some of the victims of senseless deaths caused by guns. As I have mentioned, guns do kill, whether they are licensed or otherwise. I was a gun enthusiast too some years ago until I stopped perhaps with the rising cost of reloaded ammos used in target shooting. At least I had the experience of smelling the odor of burned gunpowder.
Gun holders, aside from being cleared of having a sound mind, do need to be responsible for their guns, adhering to the rules of gun safety and the protocol in using them in gun ranges. This is what the PRO Gun advocates tell its members and all gun holders in the country. This is likewise the call of Nandy Pacheco of the Gunless Society of the Philippines.
Since the latter group cannot actually stop people from purchasing guns, they just are calling on all holders of firearms to be responsible. Of course, they wouldn’t want to disarm law-abiding citizens with their guns while exempting those with criminal minds from having their own.
Going back to the Comelec Resolution, we expect that there will be more checkpoints in strategic and random areas. Law enforcement authorities would be manning these checkpoints to prepare for the coming elections, for it to be peaceful and orderly.
Law enforcers anticipate that politicos, their henchmen and supporters carry guns, although illegally. There were a number of instances where campaign convoys of election candidates were stopped at checkpoints.
In Atimonan, Quezon, a checkpoint resulted in the death of 13 people when a convoy carrying two police officers, and environmentalists passed by a supposed checkpoint. However, policemen manning the checkpoints violated some standard operating procedures in setting up checkpoints.
Checkpoints must be well-lighted, properly identified and manned by uniformed policemen. This is to avoid “kotong” cops from getting their passway fees from motorists and other legal infractions that might be committed by law enforcers.
Upon approach, motorists should slow down, dim headlights and turn on cabin lights. This would give authorities an easier view of who is inside a vehicle and would avoid the blocking of traffic along roads.
Motorists should never step out of vehicles flagged down on checkpoints.
It’s not the obligation of a motorist to get his feet on the ground during and after a checkpoint.
Doors of vehicles should be locked as what is only authorized is a visual search by law enforcers conducting checkpoints. It’s called the plain view doctrine in legal semantics. The opening of glove compartments, trunks and bags is likewise not authorized by law to be done by those manning checkpoints.
While we should be courteous to authorities during their checkpoint activities, every motorist should know his right when flagged down.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on January 15, 2013.