MANILA — With the start of the Commission of Elections’ (Comelec) nationwide gun ban on Sunday, the Philippine National Police (PNP) announced the establishment of more checkpoints to intercept people carrying illegal firearms as it reminded its personnel to observe standard operating procedures in checkpoint operations.

In an interview, Chief Superintendent Wilben Mayor, PNP spokesperson said there will be more checkpoints in various parts of the country to implement the gun ban which seeks to reduce election-related violence in line with the upcoming national and local polls in May.

The gun ban for the 2016 elections began Sunday, January 10 and will last until June 8.

Mayor reminded police officers manning checkpoints to observe standard operating procedures in checkpoint operations which include being in full uniform and setting up checkpoints in well-lighted areas to allow motorists to be able to read the checkpoint signage and see the on duty policemen.

He said the PNP released a list of checkpoint guidelines in order for the public to identify legitimate police checkpoints. Among these are the following:

-The procedure also indicates that the policemen are limited to conducting visual checks of the vehicles they are inspecting.

-Checkpoints must be well-lighted, properly identified, and policemen have to be in proper general office attire (GOA) or patrol uniforms and not combat uniforms or camouflage.

-There should be a sign that indicates that it is a checkpoint and the name of the team leader; and, there should be a marked police vehicle.

-Upon approaching checkpoints, slowdown, dim headlights, and turn on cabin lights. Never step out of the vehicle.

-Do not submit to a physical or body search.

-You are not obliged to open glove compartment, trunk or bags.

-Ordinary/Routine questions may be asked. Be courteous but firm with answers.

-Assert your rights, have presence of mind and do not panic.

-Keep your driver’s license and car registration handy and within reach.

-Be ready to use your cellphone at anytime.

-Police authorities can only inspect vehicles or their drivers and passengers to get off under “extreme circumstances and when there are reasonable grounds” such as if the vehicles are suspected to be “getaway vehicles” or hot cars.

He also reminded gun owners that all permits to carry firearms outside residence (PTCFOR) are “suspended and shall be without force and effect while only law enforcement agency members who are in uniform and on duty will be allowed to carry firearms outside their residences.

These include members of the PNP, Armed Forces of the Philippines and the National Bureau of Investigation, he said.

However, he said even these law enforcers cannot carry firearms outside their residences if they are not on duty.

“Carrying guns outside one’s residence is prohibited unless they (private gun owners) have authority from the Comelec. Even the police officers are not allowed to carry guns unless they are in uniform and are on duty,” Mayor explained in Filipino.

Mayor also reminded the police to be courteous and friendly to motorists.

He also said his office has so far not received any complaint regarding abusive behavior of police officials on the first day of the implementation of the checkpoints.

Mayor urged the public not to be afraid of police checkpoints as they are only implementing the gun ban in preparation for the peaceful national and local elections.

“We seek for the cooperation of the community during this period,” the PNP spokesperson told PNA.

He noted the PNP won’t publicly announce the locations of their checkpoints for security reasons. Christopher Lloyd T. Caliwan & Priam F. Nepomuceno/PNA /