Lest we fall prey to scrupulous individuals, read on and learn…
1. DO NOT STOP, even when flagged down particularly under the following circumstances:
a) The persons flagging you down are not in uniform. By law, all personnel manning legitimate checkpoints should be in service uniform with the nameplates and other identification tags clearly visible and readable.
b) There is no visible police or military vehicle with conspicuous official markings. Even plainclothes personnel on a legitimate operation are not authorized to man stationary checkpoints (if on a mobile checkpoint, and in a pursuit operation, police personnel will usually wear IDs large enough to be readable.
2. If the checkpoint is legitimate, and you are requested to stop, remember to do the following:
a) Turn off your headlights (but not your parklights), turn on your interior light (so that you will be visible from the outside, and roll down your window (partially only, just enough to let you talk with the officer outside). This is standard courtesy and gives the impression that you know what you’re doing in such circumstances, further serving as a deterrent to any ill motive.
b) If a search is requested INSIDE the vehicle, assert your right not to get down. Just turn on the lights (interior and map lights), open the windows to facilitate searching and WATCH THEIR HANDS to see if they will plant anything inside. A rule of thumb is that they should only search with their flashlights. If they want to look inside any compartment (glove, center console, bag, etc.), remember (AND REMIND the officer) that it is YOU who should open and show the contents, not them. ASSERT your RIGHTS.
c) If requested that the trunk be searched after the interior has been found “clean”, roll-up all windows first and lock all other doors (except the driver’s). Open the trunk with the key (if you cannot avoid opening it remotely) and make sure the previously mentioned SOPs are followed.
3. If the personnel manning the checkpoint tell you that you’re driving a “hot car” (stolen vehicle), ask for the written police report (there should be). Check it and if legitimate, show your registration papers without leaving the vehicle.
4. If flagged down by unknown people, slow down first and quickly observe if:
a) The people are suspicious looking, not in uniform, nor without any police or military vehicle in sight, and guns are at the ready;
b) You are in a deserted stretch, in a dimly lit or dark road;
c) There is no indication of an operation in progress such as the presence of numerous vehicles in or near the area;
5. If you have no choice but to stop and you suspect something wrong (and the circumstances above in 4 are present, open your cell phone (it is now a standard security measure to have one) and dial the home or office number and leave it where the conversation could be heard. You could also tell the people where you are before completely stopping. Tell them not to hang up and to listen intently in case something goes wrong.
6. If the above circumstances are present and if you do have a choice, then:
a) DON’T STOP.
b) Call home or the office at once or an emergency number.
c) If you are still far and have time to extricate in the opposite direction (or if you can execute a bootleg or J-turn) then do so by all means. If you know some ramming techniques in case of a roadblock and you are confident you can pull it off, remember to ram the front and rear parts (and not the center where the vehicle’s mass is concentrated).
d) Get out of the area and proceed to any place where a lot of people converge (large gas stations, e.g.), any police station or government office where you can call for help.
e) Blow your horn persistently to indicate trouble (car alarm systems can be activated even while moving). Police know a criminal will not call attention to himself. This will also avoid mistake encounters by legitimate government forces.
7. The above measures can be done in areas where criminal syndicates are known to proliferate. In rebel-infested areas where checkpoints by the NPA or the Muslim secessionists (MILF, Abu Sayaff) are as easily put up as those of the military or police, it is however WISE to STOP when flagged down precisely because there could be more forces than can be seen, there could be an ambush prepared farther up the road, or there may be one on-going (you’ll of course hear a lot of gunfire).
8. Foreknowledge is always important. Determine the critical areas in the area you often drive through. The Coastal Road and the North Expressway are both notorious for carnapping and kidnapping incidents. Avoid it or at least be prepared and alert when traversing these areas. Know the “chokepoints” along the route.
9. Remember: RAISE your ALERT LEVEL when in these areas, have PRESENCE OF MIND, and DO NOT PANIC.