The ten (10) checkpoint rules outlined in the Advisory are anchored on the constitutional guarantee against unreasonable searches

and seizures (Section 2, Article III). These are:

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Checkpoint must be well-lighted, properly identified and manned by uniformed personnel. 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 bodily search. You are not obliged to open glove 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 registration handy and within reach. Be ready to use your cellphone at anytime. Speed dial emergency number. Report violations immediately. Your actions may save others.

Each rule is supported by law and jurisprudence to ensure that in the implementation of proper search and seizure procedures at military and police checkpoints, human rights are not violated. Important definitions such as “checkpoint,” “visual search” and “probable cause” are included in the Advisory. The rules are couched in a language that is easy to understand and memorize.

Republika ng Pilipinas KAGAWARAN NG KATARUNGAN Department of Justice Manila

15 ADVISORY OPINION NO. 01

March

2011

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ADVISORY ON RULES ON MILITARY/POLICE CHECKPOINTS I. INTRODUCTION

This Department of Justice (DOJ) Advisory (the “Advisory”) is intended to address and advise the public on the proper conduct of checkpoints to protect citizens, to serve as warning to erring law enforcers and to weed out illegal checkpoints. The Advisory summarizes law and jurisprudence to ensure that in the implementation of proper search and seizure procedures at military or police checkpoints, civil, political and human rights are not violated.

II. SUMMARY OF THE LAW

2. 3. on motorists’ right to “free passage without interruption. Checkpoint – A place where the military or police check vehicular or pedestrian traffic in order to enforce circulation control measures and other laws. IMPORTANT DEFINITIONS 1. Election laws. when conducted in a fixed area. In fact. Article III also provides that any evidence obtained in violation of the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding. [1] III. houses. Uniformed personnel – refers to the AFP and/or PNP personnel wearing their respective service uniforms with the name plates and other identification tags. orders. papers. rules and guidelines The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) has issued guidelines on the establishment of checkpoints to effectively implement the firearms ban during election period pursuant to the powers vested in it by the Constitution. 4. and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized. 3. Plain view – that which is readily in sight of an officer who has a right to be in the position to have that view. and regulations which involves only a brief detention of travelers during which the vehicle’s occupants are required to answer a brief question or two. Constitution Section 2. are even less intrusive. Brief detention – a brief stoppage or interruption of travel or motion (in the context of the conduct of checkpoints). and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce. Omnibus Election Code and other election laws. Section 3. routine checkpoints do intrude.1. 5. Article III of the Constitution provides for the right of the people to be secure in their persons. has ruled that not all checkpoints are illegal. in several cases. these routine checks. it involves only a brief detention of travelers during which the vehicle’s occupants are required to answer a brief question or two. admittedly. as a rule. . For as long as the vehicle is neither searched not its occupants subjected to a body search. Those which are warranted by the exigencies of public order and are conducted in a way least intrusive to motorists are allowed. 2.” but it cannot be denied that. to a certain extent. Probable cause – the existence of such facts and circumstances as would lead a person of ordinary caution and prudence to entertain an honest and strong suspicion that the person charged is guilty of the crime subject of the investigation. said routine checks cannot be regarded as violative of an individual’s right against unreasonable search. and the inspection of the vehicle is limited to a visual search. and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable. Supreme Court decisions The Supreme Court. For.

[7] . In a checkpoint inquiry. CHECKPOINT MUST BE WELL-LIGHTED.[4] 5.[6] 7. SLOW DOWN. ASSERT YOUR RIGHTS. shall properly be construed as a clear waiver of right.[2] 3. 2. The constitutional immunity against unreasonable searches and seizures is a personal right which may be waived. LOCK ALL DOORS. HAVE PRESENCE OF MIND AND DO NOT PANIC. PROPERLY IDENTIFIED AND MANNED BY UNIFORMED PERSONNEL. YOU ARE NOT OBLIGED TO OPEN GLOVE COMPARTMENT. IV. NEVER STEP OUT OF THE VEHICLE. Affirmative acts of volition without being forced or intimidated to do so. ADVISORY The general public is hereby advised on the rules on military/police checkpoints as follows: 1.[3] 4. BE COURTEOUS BUT FIRM WITH ANSWERS. Such extensive search requires the existence of probable cause.6.[5] 6. The search which is normally permissible is limited to visual search where the officer simply looks into the vehicle and flashes a light therein without opening the car’s door. the occupants cannot be compelled to step out of the vehicle. ONLY VISUAL SEARCH IS ALLOWED. Visual search – an eye search using the ‘plain view’ doctrine. The personnel manning the checkpoint cannot compel the motorist to open the trunk or glove compartment of the car or any package contained therein. Checkpoint involves only a brief detention of travelers during which the vehicle’s occupants are required to answer a brief question or two. Checkpoint guidelines provide that all personnel manning legitimate checkpoints should be in service uniform with the name plates and other identification tags clearly visible and readable. DIM HEADLIGHTS AND TURN ON CABIN LIGHTS. TRUNK OR BAGS. UPON APPROACH. DO NOT SUBMIT TO A PHYSICAL OR BODY SEARCH. ORDINARY/ROUTINE QUESTIONS MAY BE ASKED. The search which is normally permissible is limited to an instance where the occupants are not subjected to a physical or body search.

All violations shall be reported to the authorities to ensure steps are taken to investigate checkpoint violations. YOUR ACTIONS MAY SAVE OTHERS. BE READY TO USE YOUR CELLPHONE AT ANYTIME. 10. SPEED DIAL EMERGENCY NUMBER. in case requested by authorities. cellphones can be used anytime to call emergency numbers:166 (PNP). To avoid delay and inconvenience. KEEP YOUR DRIVER’S LICENSE AND CAR REGISTRATION HANDY AND WITHIN REACH. In case of violation in any these standards. (signed) LEILA M.8. REPORT VIOLATIONS IMMEDIATELY. 9. DE LIMA Secretary . ready the car registration documents for inspection. This Advisory is issued in line with the thrust of the Department to take a pro-active stance and dynamic approach in criminal justice concerns and all are enjoined to observe this Advisory.

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