MANILA — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said the actions of law enforcers who will man checkpoints in connection with the scheduled barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls next month are strictly regulated by existing guidelines.
“The rules for manning checkpoints as well as (and this is the most important thing) the lines of accountability are very clearly drawn,” said Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez.
He assured that conducting checkpoints during the election period will not result in any untoward incident.
“Historically, Comelec checkpoints have been free from violent incidents,” the poll body official said. “The combination of factors, designed into the implementation plan and the implementation rules, make Comelec checkpoints safe for both the citizens and the law enforcers.”
The poll body made the statement amid the continued spate of deaths being linked to the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.
Comelec Resolution No. 10198 states that there shall be one established Comelec checkpoint in every city or municipality during the period, while additional checkpoints can be posted if necessary.
The establishment of inspections is to effectively implement the gun ban during the election period slated September 23 to October 30.
These checkpoints shall be manned by uniformed members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) or the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) led by an official with a rank of at least an Inspector or Lieutenant, respectively.
Other guidelines of Comelec checkpoints include being well-lit; have the standard 3′ x 4′ signboard clearly identifying it as a Comelec checkpoint; as well as “Slow Down” signboards.
During the actual search, the poll body said the public is not compelled to step out of the vehicle as only visual search and routine questions are allowed.
The poll body added that no person may be subjected to a physical or body search in the absence of a reasonable ground; and that they cannot be obliged to open their globe compartment, trunk, or bags.
If ignored, the order said the checkpoint team leader must report the incident to the nearest police station in order for roadblocks, which are in accordance with PNP standard operating procedures, to be established if necessary.
Once an election violation is found, the commission said the procedures stated in the PNP handbook must be strictly observed.
“Any person arrested at a Comelec checkpoint must be treated humanely and with utmost respect for his constitutional rights,” the poll body said.
It noted that if a person was arrested at the checkpoints, the individual must be turned over to the nearest police station. (PNA)