Tulfo: Stop harassment of motorcycle riders at checkpoints

Senator Raffy Tulfo is pushing for uniform checkpoint guidelines for all vehicles to prevent the profiling and discrimination of motorcycle riders.

Tulfo filed Senate Bill 1977, or an “Act regulating the establishment of checkpoints in conjunction with ongoing police operations,” as a way “to stop the discrimination of motorcycle riders by policemen who deliberately set up checkpoints supposed to be as part of their anti-crime operations, but the real purpose is to harass and extort money from riders.”

Tulfo said police officers often stop riders at these makeshift checkpoints and demand the presentation of license and registration of documents while also inspecting their compartments and even subjecting them to body searches, without providing any explanation as to why the checkpoint is being conducted.

Tulfo also lambasted checkpoint officers for easily declaring traffic violations against motorcycle riders while owners of four-wheel vehicles are  allowed to pass through checkpoints without hassle. This is a “clear-cut case of profiling and discrimination,” he said.

In some cases, the checkpoints become an avenue for corrupt cops to practice their extortion activities, added Tulfo: “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.”

Tulfo’s  bill seeks to streamline guidelines that must be observed in the conduct of inspection of all vehicles during a routine checkpoint, “which should be conducted only for visual inspection,” he said.

The proposed measure prevents police officers from asking drivers to get off the vehicle or motorcycle for inspection and submit themselves to a physical or body search without their permission.

Tulfo said police officers manning checkpoints can demand to see the motor vehicle operator’s license and registration only if they have committed a traffic violation such as having damaged lights, or absence of a  plate number, and failure to wear helmets for riders. Otherwise, they should be allowed to pass through checkpoints without further delay or hassle.

“The only time police officers can proceed to implement the stop-and-frisk procedure is if they have reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed immediately before or during and at the checkpoint,” Tulfo stressed.

The bill provides appropriate penal sanctions for violators of the measure. In cases where death resulted from a person being subjected to checkpoint procedures, the highest penalty of reclusion perpetua will be imposed. Other criminal offenses will be punished accordingly.

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