As gun ban nears, public told to be fully aware of checkpoint guidelines

January 03, 2019

WITH 9 days to go before the 2019 mid-term election period, Philippine National Police chief, Director General Oscar D. Albayalde yesterday said  more anti-criminality checkpoints have been put up in Metro Manila and other parts of the country as part of their measures to arrest the flow of unauthorized firearms and other deadly weapons that could be used to sow violence.

Police will strictly enforce the nationwide gun ban from January 13 to June 12 with the National Capital Region Police Office headed by Director Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar and the 16 other police regional offices under instruction to field more uniformed policemen to conduct gun and weapon checks in designated checkpoints in the metropolis.

Under Comelec Resolution No. 10466, there will be a total ban on the bearing, carrying or transporting of firearms or other deadly weapons and the employment, availment or engagement of the services of security personnel or bodyguards during the May 13, 2019 national and local elections.

Thus, the PNP will go after persons who will be found committing election offenses including carrying of firearms in public without Comelec exemption since all Permits-to-Carry-Firearms-Outside-of-Residence issued by the PNP will be considered null and void during the period.

Police will also go after candidates including incumbent public officers who will be found employing, availing or engaging the services of security personnel or bodyguards, whether or not such bodyguards are regular members of the PNP, the Armed Forces and other law enforcement agencies.

Deadly weapons to be confiscated  during the election period include bladed instruments, hand grenades or other explosives, except pyrotechnics. However, a bladed instrument is not covered by the prohibition when possession of the bladed instrument is necessary to the occupation of the possessor or when it is used as a tool for legitimate activity.

However, Gen. Albayalde said  these checkpoints are being manned by officers trained to ensure that the protection of human rights of all motorists will remain their priority. The PNP chief also said he has ordered the deployment of more officer-led PNP checkpoints nationwide including in Metro Manila, all manned by policemen in uniform and must always have an official PNP vehicle to prevent the possibility of a ‘bantay-salakay’ involving some rogues in blue.

According to Gen. Albayalde, they are thoroughly monitoring the deployment and conduct of policemen manning these checkpoints. He also said officers manning the checkpoints have been thoroughly lectured on the Police Operational Procedures or POP approved by the PNP leadership in collaboration with the Commission on Human Rights to underscore vital function and purpose of law enforcement -- which is to protect human rights.

The checkpoint must be led by an officer with the rank of at least Police Inspector; must have officially marked vehicles with blinkers turned on; must be manned by policemen wearing the prescribed PNP uniform and must have a presentable appearance; and must be placed in well and properly-lit areas.

The equipment will include but not limited to the following: marked patrol vehicles; firearms with basic load of ammunition; handheld and vehicle base radios; flashlights; megaphone; video camera; and signage showing the warning signs like Slowdown Checkpoint Ahead, Checkpoint 20 Meters Ahead, etc.

PNP Public Information Office head and PNP spokesman, Chief Superintendent Benigno B. Durana Jr. said that the PNP-POP states that due courtesy must be accorded to the motorists, traders and the commuters during the conduct of checkpoint and the designated checkpoint spokesperson must greet the people subject for inspection, extend apology for the inconvenience, appeal for understanding and state the reasons of the operation. Upon completion, the officer must thank the person/s checked.

Except in the actual commission of crime during checkpoints or in a hot pursuit operation, the conduct of inspection of vehicle during a routine checkpoint is limited to visual search and therefore must be done with due respect to innocent passers-by, commuters or bystanders and be conducted in a manner that is least inconvenient to the public. Searches, seizures and arrests made during checkpoints shall be within the ambit of the law, Bulalacao explained.