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POLICE AND POLLS | Brace for more checkpoints as elections near – PNP
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines - The public should brace for more police checkpoints nationwide when the election period starts on January 13, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said Thursday.

The nationwide gun ban will also start on January 13 as part of PNP's operation SAFE 2013 or Secure and Fair Elections. During the gun ban, only authorized, on-duty security personnel in appropriate uniforms will be exempted.

PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr. said policemen nationwide have been ordered to strictly adhere to the existing standard operating procedures (SOPs) in the conduct of a police checkpoint. The order was issued after questions were raised over the validity of the police checkpoint in the Atimonan, Quezon "shootout" where 13 were killed.

"We reminded, reiterated to our ground units the procedure, SOP, during checkpoints. We emphasized to proper conduct of a policeman in a checkpoint," he said.

Below are the things motorists should keep in mind when encountering police or security checkpoint:

- It should be manned by police personnel in official uniform (not in fatigue but this rule only applies to policemen). They should either be in the standard blue general office attire or in patrol shirt;

- The exact number of policemen will depend on the ground commander;

- The team should be led by a police official with the rank of Inspector and above;

- It should be at a well-lighted place;

- it should have appropriate signage indicating the purpose of the checkpoint and the unit conducting the checkpoint;

- A marked police vehicle should be present;

- Policemen should be courteous when approaching/talking to motorists;

- inspection is only limited to visual check;

- Motorists should not be forced to step out of the vehicle or open their car and personal belongings for inspection except in extreme circumstance when a vehicle is similar in make and model to a vehicle recently used in a crime (i.e. bank robbery or kidnapping).

Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II appealed to the public not to generalize and paint all police checkpoints as potentiall controversial or a mirror of what happened in Atimonan.

"Though that [Atimonan shootout] unfortunately happened, and many died, still, let’s not consider that the norm as far as chekpoints go nationwide,” Roxas said. He said the Atimonan incident was "unusual" as those killed in the incident had with them 14 firearms.

"Hindi naman sila manunuod ng Manila Film Festival. Hindi ko sinasabi na masama ang loob nila, balak nila, but the fact is there are 14 firearms also inside the vehicle," Roxa added.

Aside from the gun ban and election checkpoints, the PNP is also set to recall all police escorts assigned to those running for government posts. Candidates should seek the approval of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) before being assigned security personnel.