MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has urged police and military personnel to observe the rules in implementing checkpoints and gun control for the upcoming May polls.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said that passengers of public utility vehicles need not get off during inspections while doors and compartments of private cars should not be opened.
“I saw on TV that passengers of a bus were asked to get off during an inspection. They don’t have to do that. Just imagine the hassle that it can cause motorists,” he said.
For private cars, Brillantes said authorities could check on the vehicles in “plain view” without opening the doors or compartment unless they observe something irregular.
“For instance, if the window is heavily tinted, they can have it opened. But otherwise, they cannot do that,” he added.
Brillantes clarified that the “Comelec checkpoints” are intended to apprehend violators of the gun ban.
The poll chief has yet to make an evaluation of the gun ban, which took effect last Sunday signaling the start of the 120-day election period.
“I’m still waiting for reports. But I think we have to observe more, not in Metro Manila but in the provinces,” he said.
Brillantes added that as a general rule, the checkpoints should be operational 24 hours a day.
Meanwhile, an official of the Quezon City Police District admitted yesterday there are still “gray areas” that restrict policemen from arresting suspected criminals at checkpoints.
QCPD director Senior Superintendent Richard Albano said that while they have a “very organized” system of conducting checkpoints, the actual checking of vehicles entails cooperation of motorists.
“If we insist on checking on the vehicle if we suspect a criminal is in the car, there would also be a violation on our part,” he said.
Albano said there would be instances where a judgment call will be required of the officer on the ground.
He said there are at least 12 checkpoints in Quezon City. Each checkpoint team is composed of 12 to 14 personnel from the police and the military.
MMDA seeks longer liquor ban
The poll body virtually turned down yesterday the petition of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to extend the liquor ban from two days to 45 days.
Brillantes said they would study the request, but he believes that 45 days is too long for a liquor ban.
This was echoed by Commissioner Armando Velasco, saying that a longer liquor ban would have commercial implications.
“In our informal discussion, 45 days are too long. On my part, maybe three days. Business would be affected so if they like, it can be done by the local government units through city or municipal ordinances, not necessarily by the Comelec,” Velasco added. With Reinir Padua, Roel Pareño