The Department of Justice (DOJ) released last March 24, 2011 the first Advisory Opinion summarizing the basic rights of citizens in military/police checkpoints. Advisory Opinion No. 1 signed by Secretary Leila M. De Lima is issued in line with the thrust of the Department to take a pro-active stance and dynamic approach in criminal justice concerns. “We came out with this initiative to protect the public from abuses committed by law enforcers and to weed out illegal checkpoints,” said Secretary Leila M. De Lima. 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:
- 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.
Click HERE for the actual advisory.