MANILA — Senator Idol Raffy Tulfo filed a measure seeking to stop the discrimination of motorcycle riders by police personnel who deliberately set up checkpoints supposed to be part of their anti-crime operations, but the real purpose is to harass and extort money from riders.
In filing Senate Bill (SB) No. 1977, Tulfo lamented that police officers often stop riders at these makeshift checkpoints and require each and every one of them right then and there to present several documents like license and registration, inspect their compartment and even subject them to a body search, without first explaining the reason for the checkpoint, point out any traffic violation nor having reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed.
But he pointed out that four-wheel vehicles are allowed to pass through these checkpoints without any hassle. A clear-cut case of profiling and discrimination.
In some cases, Tulfo said cops would plant evidence, like contraband, drugs, firearms, and the like so that they can extort money from the helpless motorcycle riders, and if they fail, they will be detained, arrested and charges will be filed against them and eventually be sent to jail.
Under Tulfo’s SB No. 1977, the guidelines for checkpoints must be implemented uniformly for all motor vehicles to further prevent the profiling and discrimination of motorcycle riders.
For one, the plain view doctrine must be observed in the conduct of inspection of all vehicles during a routine checkpoint which should be conducted only for visual inspection.
Here, the police cannot ask drivers to step out of their car or get off the motorcycle, inspect it, or submit to a physical or body search without their permission.
Tulfo said that police officers manning checkpoints can demand to see the motor vehicle operator’s license and registration only if they observed any traffic violation such as damaged light, lack of plate number, and failure to wear helmets for riders.
Otherwise, they should be allowed to go on their way past the checkpoint without further delay or hassle. The only time police officers can proceed to implement the “stop and frisk” procedure only if they have reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed immediately before or during and at the checkpoint.
Appropriate penal sanctions for enforcement officers who violate the Act will be imposed. In cases where death resulted in persons subjected to the checkpoint procedures, the highest penalty of reclusion perpetua must be imposed. Other criminal offenses will be punished accordingly.