Guidelines for Checkpoints
This article appeared 3 years ago on uaa.ph. Since there is a current proposal to increase the number of checkpoints, by popular request, we reproduce it here for reference):If you encounter a checkpoint:
1. The Rule is: The PNP manning the check point are limited only to a VISUAL SEARCH. They are not authorized to open your trunk, compartment, or bags(unless you are stupid enough to consent voluntarily). If they make motions to search your person (body), open your glove compartment or trunk, NEVER VOLUNTARILY AGREE TO OPEN ANYTHING OR ALLOW THEM TO SEARCH YOU. ALWAYS OBJECT.
If the police insist on searching against your will, then the search will be rendered ILLEGAL and can be questioned later, and may be the basis for RETURN or your things, if taken.If you think that you are being subject to an illegal search, discreetly take a video or pictures of the incident with your cell phone camera. This will be VITAL EVIDENCE later on, should you decide to question the search. Also insist on getting the NAMES of the officers, their unit, and their team leader. This is needed later on for IDENTIFICATION PURPOSES should there be a legal proceeding.2. Only ILLEGAL items in PLAIN VIEW can be seized. LEGITIMATE ITEMS cannot not seized. So always HIDE your guns carefully in bags or better in the trunk and make sure they are OUT OF PLAIN SIGHT. Try to cover the gun cases with cloth or other similar item.
3. Nevertheless, bear in mind that the SUPREME COURT has ruled in Valmonte vs. De Villa 178 SCRA 211 (1989) that checkpoints are valid PROVIDED THAT neither the vehicle must be searched or its occupant subjected to a body search. Nevertheless, only a VISUAL SEARCH from OUTSIDE the vehicle may be done.
However if you take public transportation or commute, please be aware that in the infamous case of People vs. Mikhail Malmstedt, 198 SCRA 410 (1991), a mere "suspicious bag" was upheld as probable cause to conduct a search of pssangers inside a bus, in which case the drugs found during such search were upheld to be addmissible as evidence.
4. Practical pointers for checkpoints:
a. Do not panicb. Be courteous, but cordial, with the PNP. Maintain a distance and avoid cracking jokes or name dropping with them. Just shut up unless asked questions. The sooner you get away, the better.c. Be sure to object if they ask you to get out of the car and search the vehicle and its compartments. Always ask what the charge is before they proceed. Never voluntarily consent to a search. Video the event if possible.d. WATCH CAREFULLY the police when they conduct their search and make sure that they DO NOT PLANT ANY ILLEGAL ITEM IN YOUR CAR. This may sound absurd, but this is a common practice.e. If you feel that your rights are being violated or are detained for more than 1 hour call your relatives or a lawyer immediately.f. If you are arrested do not volunteer any information or give any statement until your lawyer or relatives arrive.
5. If your guns are discovered:
a. Stay Calm and produce your papersb. Always make sure that you have photocopies of your license and PTCFOR SOMEWHERE ELSE, just in case they confiscate your license and PTCFOR cards for verification and they do not return them.c. if they insist on detaining you or confiscating your weapons, call your relatives or a lawyer.
6. The worst case scenario if you get caught at a checkpoint is they will confiscate your guns. As what happened in makati recently, the guns could be returned when things are explained and sorted out with the PNP and the proper verifications are made.
7. Try to avoid known checkpoint areas. Also NEVER ride tandem (angkas) on a motorcycle with your guns. You are surely going to be stopped and body-searched since tandem riders are a known modus operandi of assassins. REMEMBER: Checkpoints are considered as potentially dangerous encounters since they are subject to much abuse. A lot of people get shot and killed and/or illegally detained at checkpoints. It is not Joke. So be as couteous as possible, but maintain your alertness and PRESENCE OF MIND, and COMMON SENSE.