Scared of checkpoints? Know your rights
Here are 10 points you need to know to avoid abuses in checkpoints

MANILA, Philippines – If you’re driving and you happen to pass by a police or military checkpoint, do you know how to deal with the situation?

Are you aware, for example, of a rule that checkpoints have to be well-lighted and the personnel manning them should be carrying official identification cards and uniforms? Or that you must not step out of your car at a checkpoint or allow cops to subject you to a body search?

The Philippine National Police has released a 10-point guideline for motorists, which outlines what they should do and expect in police and military checkpoints:

  1. Checkpoints must be well-lighted, 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 glove compartment, 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 cellphone at anytime. Keep a speed dial emergency number.   
  10. Report violations immediately. Your actions may save others.

The PNP hopes that the list will ensure the implementation of proper searches and seizures, and avoid violation of human rights. The guide aims to reduce checkpoint abuse.

The guide was first endorsed by the Department of Justice to the PNP in March 2011.

The joint initiative also includes a “no tint” or “clear window” policy among police vehicles near checkpoints, except for those involved in surveillance and other similar operations.

According to the PNP, this policy “promotes accountability in governance and may also place an inherent check on scalawags.”

Aside from this, the Police Operational Procedures also require that the name, designation, unit, and contact details of the superior police officer in checkpoints are marked prominently in the checkpoint sign. –

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