The recent shootout or rub-out (depending on the result of the ongoing investigation) in Atimonan, Quezon, brings the focus back to the safety and rights of citizens when flagged by police authorities in checkpoints. All 13 passengers (including police and military officers) of the 2 vehicles died during the shooting incident that happened at the checkpoint. Now that the election period is about to start, more checkpoints will definitely sprout all over the country.
It may be helpful to revisit the 10 CHECKPOINT RULES that MUST be observed by authorities in setting up and manning checkpoints. These rules are contained in Advisory Opinion No. 1 issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on 24 Marchy 2011.
1. 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/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. Speed dial emergency number.
10. Report violations immediately. Your actions may save others.
It’s also helpful to remind everyone to be respectful when talking with the police authorities manning checkpoints. Lower the passenger window only a bit (to allow the driver and the police to hear each other). Note the names tags and other identifying information.