Comelec warns vs unauthorized checkpoints

Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star
Comelec warns vs unauthorized checkpoints
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the public should stay vigilant against unauthorized persons who may pretend to be manning checkpoints.
BusinessWorld / File

MANILA, Philippines — As the election period started yesterday, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) warned the public against “poseurs,” or unauthorized road checkpoints nationwide.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the public should stay vigilant against unauthorized persons who may pretend to be manning checkpoints.

“Sometimes, there are people who are pretending to be legitimate police officers (manning checkpoints),” Jimenez said.

To avoid those poseurs, the public should check if the person manning the checkpoint is wearing the proper footwear.

“People who are pretending to be legitimate police officers sometimes forget and wear rubber shoes or slippers. So, as a tip, check their feet,” he said.

According to Jimenez, checkpoints must be manned by police personnel who are in complete proper uniform, including footwear.

Under the rules, checkpoints must be clearly marked with a big signage stating “Comelec checkpoint.” 

The sign must also contain the name and contact information of the election and police officers in charge of the area.

Jimenez said police officers are also required to observe “plain view” policy during actual checking.

This means the police officer can focus his flashlight into the vehicle and observe its occupants. The motorist and passengers, however, are not under any obligation to alight from their vehicle and open any compartment.

Only if something arouses reasonable suspicion can the police do something other than look.

“If you are to volunteer to open your glove compartment or the trunk of your car, that is your call,” Jimenez said.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) said motorists should observe the activities of the policemen manning the checkpoints.

PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Benigno Durana Jr. said the public should use their cellphones to record the actions of policemen manning the checkpoints while they are being inspected.

Durana said this would discourage policemen from committing illegal acts.

“That is your right and that will also allow us to make our operations transparent,” Durana said.

Durana reminded the public that policemen should be in complete uniform and the checkpoints located in a well-lighted area.

A commissioned police officer must be also present during checkpoint operations, he said.

PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde has ordered policemen manning the checkpoints to strictly implement the gun ban now that the election period has started.

The election period for the May 13 midterm polls officially kicked off yesterday and will run until June 12 during which a gun ban is enforced.

Comelec checkpoints are being established nationwide, with at least one in each city or municipality to implement the gun ban.

The Comelec is particularly stricter in Daraga, Albay following the murder of mayoralty candidate, Ako Bicol representative Rodel Batocabe last December. – With Emmanuel Tupas, Cet Dematera

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