Friday, April 20, 2012

Philippines: PNP Issues Advisory on Police Checkpoint Protocols

The Philippine National Police (PNP) issued guidelines yesterday (April 19) to motorists in the Philippines outlining proper conduct at checkpoints for police officers as part of what it called “rights-based policing.”

“This public advisory guides motorists on how to deal with authorities at checkpoints and ensure its implementation on proper searches and seizures to avoid violations of human rights,” Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz Jr., PNP spokesperson, said in a press statement. Cruz said the advisory should also serve as a warning to non-complying police as well as discouraging illegal checkpoints.

The content of the PNP advisory stated the following:

“The checkpoint must be well-lighted, properly identified and manned by uniformed personnel. Upon approach, slow down, dim headlights and turn on cabin lights. Never step out of the vehicle. Lock all doors. Only visual search is allowed. Do not submit to a physical or body search. You are not obliged to open glove compartment, trunk or bags. Ordinary/routine questions may be asked. Be courteous but firm with answers. Assert your rights, have presence of mind and do not panic. Keep your driver’s license and car registration handy and within reach. Be ready to use your cell phone at anytime. Speed-dial emergency number. Report violations immediately. Your actions may save others.”

COMMENT: Chief Supt. Cruz also told the press that marked police vehicles should not have clear windows and that tinted windows are not authorized, pointing out that only unmarked police vehicles can utilize tinting in order to successfully conduct covert surveillance.

Considering the large number of citizens who are injured or killed at both unmarked and marked police checkpoints every year worldwide, the PNP is commended for their efforts in publicizing how police checkpoints should be conducted.

The PNP's good example should be adopted by law enforcement agencies worldwide.

As many of our readers are aware, the daughter of a Chilean diplomat, age 19, was shot and killed just recently in Maracaibo by Venezuelan police who had set up an UNMARKED police checkpoint, an operation that was uniformly criticized by Venezuelan officials. As a result, the diplomat's daughter and her brother "ran" the checkpoint, thinking they had been set up for an armed carjacking.

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