AS the number of arrested gun ban violators continued to move since last Sunday and is now nearing the 100 mark, the Philippine National Police leadership has called anew on its men to strictly comply with police operational procedures in the conduct of checkpoints with respect for human rights always a primordial concern.
The PNP headed by Director General Oscar D. Albayalde wants to avoid ‘glaring errors’ committed by some policemen involved in controversial shooting incidents while manning checkpoints in the past and wants it to be corrected thru proper supervision of officers in the field.
The PNP chief had maintained that any policemen who will be found committing actual violations of their Police Operational Procedures would be subjected to a pre-charge evaluation to determine their administrative culpability.
Since last Sunday, over 90 persons have been apprehended by the police for carrying firearms and other deadly weapons in the streets in violation of the Omnibus Election Code. Gen. Albayalde has ordered his men to accost all violators of the gun ban during the 150-day election period.
The biggest number of violators were apprehended by the National Capital Region Police Office followed by the Police Regional Offices 8,5 and Cordillera, the PNP National Operations Center said. The enforcement of the gun ban which started past midnight Saturday has also led in the confiscation so far of 45 small arms, one light weapon and home-made-guns and replicas and over 310 other deadly weapons including bladed and pointed weapons and a grenade which was recovered by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao police.
As of yesterday, NCRPO agents have already arrested 39 gun ban violators during operations since last Sunday which led in the confiscation of 13 firearms and 237 other deadly weapons including knives as well as over 200various live ammunition.
This has prompted NCRPO chief, Director Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar to warn gun ban violators in Metro Manila they would be facing a serious offense that could land them in jail for a maximum of six years once proven guilty
Under the Omnibus Election Code, a guilty gun ban violator faces a prison term of not less than one year but not more than six years, all not subject to probation.
Eleazar said NCRPO personnel manning checkpoints in different parts of Metro Manila are only authorized to conduct a visual search on passing motor vehicles and their occupants.
The Metro Manila police chief said their guidelines are very clear: the checkpoint must be led by an officer with the rank of at least Police Inspector; must have officially marked vehicles with blinkers turned on; must be manned by policemen wearing the prescribed PNP uniform and must have a presentable appearance; and must be placed in well and properly-lit areas with a noticeable signage bearing the name of the PNP unit visible displayed in the checkpoint site to prevent any apprehension from the public of the existence of the same.
Eleazar also called on motorists to slow down, dim headlights and turn on their cabin lights when approaching a checkpoint. He said there is no need for the driver and passengers to step out of the vehicle.
Eleazar said routine questions may be asked by the police but the motorists should be courteous but firm with their answers. He also called on the public to keep their driver’s license and car registration handy and within reach.
The official said all PTCFORs have been suspended until June 13 and only law enforcement officers in their prescribed uniform and in the actual performance of duty are allowed to carry their firearms in public.
The official said that complaints and other concerns regarding the conduct of checkpoints may be relayed to 911 or their hotlines 09158888181 and 09999018181.
PNP spokesman, Chief Superintendent Benigno B. Durana Jr. said they expect the number to further increase as the PNP continues to strictly enforce the ban on the unauthorized carrying of firearms and other deadly weapons in the streets in order to ensure the holding of a secure and fair May 13 national and local elections.
Durana said more checkpoint cops have been fielded to help conduct gun checks in designated checkpoint areas across the country. He assured that policemen manning checkpoints in the metropolis must fully observe human rights and the Police Operational Procedures at all times or they will be subjected into administrative investigation once they become the object of complaints from the public.
The POP states that all police intervention operations (arrest, raids, search-and-seizure, checkpoint, demolition, civil disturbance management) should be conducted with a marked police vehicle, preferably led by a Police Commissioned Officer and with personnel in prescribed police uniform.