By Chito Chavez
A Quezon City councilor asked the local police to respect and preserve people’s rights when conducting checkpoints and security checks in public places.
Third District Councilor Allan Benedict Reyes made the urgent call as complaints reached his office that some members of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) are resorting to frisking when conducting their operations inside pubs, resto bars, and other similar nightspots.
“It is uncalled for when police officers frisk bar customers in the course of what they call as operation bakal,’’ Reyes said.
“Operation bakal’’ is a term coined by the police in checking if an individual is illegally in possession of firearms.
“As far as I know frisking an individual unlawful much so if that person is peacefully relaxing in the city’s nightspots. There must be some other way to lawfully carry out their peace maintaining tasks,’’ Reyes said.
A student who was celebrating his birthday in a bar, who requested anonymity, said that police officers who frisked him during his party had “incited fear in me,’’ especially since there were past reports that some rogue cops have resorted to planting illegal drugs to their target victims to harass them in exchange for cash.
Reyes also appealed to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to be on alert to ensure that human rights will be respected by the police as checkpoints are now in place in strategic locations to ensure a safe and peaceful mid-term election in May.
He added that police checkpoints should be deterrent to lawlessness and should not be used by errant police officers to “terrorize and instill fear to the public’’.
In the past, Reyes noted that complaints have reached his office that some rogue police officers manning the checkpoints have committed violations and grave abuses.
He noted that the objective of putting up checkpoints was to neutralize lawless elements that normally thrive during the election period, exploiting the situation to sow chaos ad disorder to advance their unlawful interests.
To minimize the chances of becoming victims of human rights abuses, Reyes reminded the public “to instill in their hearts and minds’’ the rules governing police and military checkpoints.
Reyes enumerated the following rules that should be followed at checkpoints:
- Checkpoint must be conducted at well-lighted area that would be manned by properly identified uniformed person
- 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 openglove 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 registrationhandy and within reach.
- Be ready to use your cell phone Speedily dial emergency numbers.
- Report any violations immediately. Your actions may save others.
By following these simple rules, Reyes said that arrogant and corrupt police officers may have second thoughts on employing their unlawful motives.
If possible, Reyes advised the motorists have the rules on checkpoints computer typed, printed and laminated that can be presented to the police officers if they intend to make any violations.
“I think it would help if we have a laminated copy of the rules on checkpoints to make the policemen aware that the motorists are aware of their rights,’’ he added.
Reyes also asked the motorists to cooperate and accede to lawful conduct of checkpoints to maintain law and order.
Earlier, the Philippine National Police (PNP) ordered all police commanders nationwide to fully comply with an official directive banning the use of tints on marked government vehicles including police patrol vehicles in order to promote transparency and restore public confidence on law enforcement authorities. (Chito A. Chavez)