By Nikko Dizon
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Filed Under: Security (general), Civil & Public Services, Police, Military, Safety of Citizens
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Justice on Friday issued an advisory outlining the 10-point guidelines for motorists to ensure that their rights remain protected when they are inspected at military or police checkpoints.
“We came out with this initiative to protect the public from abuses committed by law enforcers and to weed out illegal checkpoints,” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said in a statement.
De Lima, who was chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights before her appointment as justice secretary, signed the DoJ’s first advisory opinion on March 15, “in line with the thrust of the department to take a pro-active stance and dynamic approach in criminal justice concerns.”
The statement said that the advisory was in line with the constitutional guarantee that protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures “of whatever nature.”
The five-page advisory notes that the Supreme Court, in several cases, has ruled that not all checkpoints are illegal.
Checkpoints are allowed if these are necessary for public order and conducted in the least intrusive way for the motorists, the advisory said, quoting the High Tribunal.
“For as long as the vehicle is neither searched nor its occupants subjected to a body search, and the inspection of the vehicle is limited to a visual search, said routine checks cannot be regarded as violative of an individual’s right against unreasonable search,” the advisory said.
The DoJ statement also stressed that the rules have been written in a “language that is easy to understand and memorize.”
The following are rules on military and police checkpoints issued by the DoJ:
1. A checkpoint 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 bodily search.
5. You are not obliged to open glove compartment, trunk or bags.
6. Ordinary or 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 any time. Speed dial emergency number.
10. Report violations immediately. Your actions may save others.