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CHR-Negros Oriental cautions PNP about checkpoints

Juancho R. Gallarde (The Freeman) - January 21, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The police, and even the military, have no right to ask motorists for their driver’s license or motor vehicle registration during the conduct of the Comelec checkpoints.

This was emphasized by Commission on Human Rights-Negros Oriental special field investigator Jess Cañete during the Kapihan sa PIA forum about security preparations for the May 9 elections.

Cañete responded to the statements of Senior Superintendent Harris Fama, OIC-director of the Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office, saying that that conduct of the Comelec checkpoint has two purposes: the implementation of the election gun ban, and the anti-criminality campaign in the province.

Under the second rule, Fama said police officers may ask for the drivers license and registration papers of their driven units.

Cañete however cautioned the police from committing blunders that they might regret later on. If the premise is a prior intelligence report that such motorist is carrying guns, Cañete advised the police to apply for a search warrant to serve as basis for the search incidental to a lawful arrest.

The CHR official clarified that the police may have a wider scope of responsibilities — dual or even quadruple — but the bottomline is that they could not force a motorist to give or show his driver’s license or registration papers at the checkpoint.

The motorist could refuse the demand of the police, especially if the latter has no deputation order from the Land Transportation Office, the sole agency that has jurisdiction on the matter.

LTO-Bayawan City chief Janine Lawas had earlier said the deputation orders for policemen had expired in December 15 last year, thus no deputized personnel can issue citation tickets or temporary operators permits to violators, except for LTO personnel.

However, under the plain view doctrine, Cañete admitted that it is the job of the police to ask for supporting documents from the motorist, but he advised the police that they could not even frisk a motorist for just being suspiciously looking.

Cañete also said these acts of the police have been geared for the maintenance of peace and order, so he enjoined motorists to cooperate also if they are not hiding anything illegal in their vehicles.

Dumaguete City election officer Gildu Agoncillo, for his part, said it is the constitutional rights of everybody not to be searched in public during the conduct of checkpoints, but he said there are some exemptions.

Agoncillo said the main purpose for the conduct of Comelec checkpoint is to check on lawless elements, such as private armed groups and goons who maybe carrying firearms inside vehicles, especially if the police received information from legitimate sources about the matter.  (FREEMAN)

 

 

ATILDE BAYAWAN CITY COMELEC DUMAGUETE CITY GILDU AGONCILLO HUMAN RIGHTS-NEGROS ORIENTAL JANINE LAWAS JESS CA LAND TRANSPORTATION OFFICE NEGROS ORIENTAL PROVINCIAL POLICE OFFICE POLICE
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