MANILA, December 14, 2003 (STAR) (The following is a primer on the setting up of checkpoints in vital points in Metro Manila issued by the National Anti-Kidnapping Task Force (Naktaf) Editors.)

Why are there checkpoints on Metro Manila roads?

The checkpoints established in key areas around Metro Manila are part of the National Anti-Kidnapping Task Force (NAKTAF)-initiated security measures approved by President Arroyo to curb kidnapping in the country.

The conduct of checkpoints, chokepoints and police and military foot patrols shall increase visibility of law enforcement authorities to act as effective deterrents to the incidence of kidnapping, particularly in Metro Manila. Checkpoints, in particular, are meant to interdict the movement of kidnap-for-ransom groups and other criminal elements and deny them freedom of movement in the conduct of their activities.

Is my vehicle subject to inspection at checkpoints?

Since the guidelines issued by the NAKTF prescribe that vehicular inspections be conducted at random, there is a high probability that your car will be subjected for inspection. As a general rule, the most likely vehicles to be examined are those that are heavily tinted, those occupied by armed or uniformed individuals, those with suspicious-looking passengers, those carrying a dubious number of occupants, those with irregular identification numbers, those that have special plates and those that have no license plates.

Who are manning these checkpoints?

Checkpoints are jointly-manned by police, military, and civilian components from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.

How do I know if a checkpoint is legitimate?

Legitimate checkpoints shall have proper signage, e.g., "Slow down, Naktaf /PNP Checkpoint." Marked police and military vehicles are parked right beside the checkpoint. Secretary Angelo Reyes, Naktaf chief, has issued specific instructions that all checkpoints should be led by an officer, not lower in rank than a lieutenant or police inspector.

What procedures should I follow when I pass through a checkpoint?

Motorists should slow down, switch headlights off, stop upon signal, roll windows down, switch on cabin lights and submit their vehicles to ocular inspection.

What procedures should I expect from the checkpoint personnel?

Personnel manning the checkpoints have been instructed to be strict, stern but courteous at all times. Motorists will be signaled to slow down, and if necessary, signaled to stop. Further, the motorists will be requested to roll down their windows for a visual search of the vehicle. Personnel manning the checkpoints are also instructed to conduct inspections as brief as possible to avoid inconveniencing motorists and obstructing the continuous flow of traffic.

What are the limitations of searches at checkpoints?

As mentioned in the General Guidelines issued by Naktaf , strict adherence to human rights shall be emphasized in all undertakings. According to the provisions of the PNP Operational Procedures, searches made at checkpoints and chokepoints shall be limited to visual search. A more thorough and extensive search may be allowed, only if the officers conducting the search have probable cause to believe that they would find evidence pertaining to the commission of a crime in the vehicle to be searched and there is no sufficient time to secure a valid warrant.

If I encounter problems at checkpoints, where can I ask for help?

For assistance, you can either call the 24-hour Naktaf Hotline: 727-0000 or the DILG/PNP Hotline: 117.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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