Know your rights as a motorist at police checkpoints

Maan Macapagal, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 18 2019 08:17 PM

MANILA - The Philippine National Police-Human Rights Affairs Office on Friday reminded motorists of their rights at checkpoints, which were intensified as election period began last Jan. 13.

PNP-HRAO told motorists to keep the following in mind at checkpoints:

- Checkpoints are always conducted in well-lit areas, with signage and manned by the PNP and a Comelec representative.

- Police officers should be in proper uniform with ID.

- Police are only allowed to check in plain view. They are not required to open the car doors and trunk.

- Motorists are advised to stop in checkpoints, close the headlight, open the light inside and lock the vehicle.

- Driver’s license and car registration should always be within reach.

- Do not panic and be courteous in replying but assert rights and have presence of mind.

- A thorough search is only necessary when the motorist has an outstanding search or arrest warrant or if the vehicle is flagged.

- A vehicle may also be searched if there are illegal weapons, illegal drugs, broken windows and other contrabands are seen.

- Warrants should be carefully examined for authenticity. Motorists are also advised to get a witness before the search is conducted by police.

- Motorists are encouraged to always have their mobile phones on hand and to have speed dial for any emergency.

- If human rights are violated in checkpoints, motorists should report the incident immediately to PNP HRAO.

“Sa mga motorista, dapat alam nila ang kanilang mga karapatan. At itong mga karapatang ito ay naaayon din sa operational procedures na ipinaalam dapat ng mga kapulisan sa kanila,” PNP-HRAO Spokesperson Senior Supt. Ildebrandi Usana said.

(Motorists should know their rights. And these rights should be aligned with the operational procedures, which police officers should tell them.)

The PNP-HRAO Know Your Rights App is available for download in smartphones.

The PNP-HRAO will also be conducting a refresher seminar for police officers nationwide on how to properly conduct checkpoints.

Usana said this is to avoid human rights violations.

“Kung titingnan ang ating datos, less and less na yung mga number ng cases involving violations ng mga pulis sa pagko-conduct ng checkpoint. Ibig sabihin, nag-mature ang ating mga kapulisan along with the conduct of series of training courses,” Usana said.

(If we look at our data, there are fewer cases of violations involving policemen in conducting checkpoints. This means our police force have matured along with the conduct of series of training courses.)

One of the things police in checkpoints avoid is an encounter with a motorist.

Supt. Eduardo Balita of the Batangas Provincial Police Office said it is important to establish good rapport while at the checkpoint.

“Nakakatulong ang aura ng pulis na smiling, magalang. Ang mga tao mapagmasid ang mga yan. Kapag nakita nilang ang mga pulis parang relax lang, parang wala lang, di gaanong cooperative ang mga tao,” Balita said.

(Smiling and being respectful helps the aura of a police officer. People are observant. If they see policemen are relaxed, they won't be as cooperative.)