ISSUES ADVISORY OPINION ON RULES
ON MILITARY/POLICE CHECKPOINTS 
24 March 2011
The Department of Justice (DOJ) released today the first
Advisory Opinion summarizing the basic rights of citizens in military/police
Advisory Opinion No. 1 signed by Secretary Leila M. De Lima is issued in line
with the thrust of the Department to take a pro-active stance and dynamic
approach in criminal justice concerns.
The ten (10) checkpoint rules outlined in the Advisory are anchored on the
constitutional guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures (Section 2,
Article III). These are:
- Checkpoint must be
well-lighted, properly identified and manned by uniformed personnel.
- Upon approach, slow down,
dim headlights and turn on cabin lights. Never step out of the
- Lock all doors. Only
visual search is allowed.
- Do not submit to a physical
or bodily 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 driverâ€™s license and car registration handy and
- Be ready to use your cellphone at anytime. Speed-dial emergency
number. Report violations immediately. Your actions may save others.
Each rule is supported by law
and jurisprudence to ensure that in the implementation of proper search and
seizure procedures at military and police checkpoints, human rights are not
violated. Important definitions such as â€œcheckpoint,â€� â€œvisual searchâ€� and â€œprobable
included in the Advisory. The rules are couched in a language that is
easy to understand and memorize.
Republika ng Pilipinas
KAGAWARAN NG KATARUNGAN
Department of Justice Manila
15 March 2011
ADVISORY OPINION NO. 01
OF JUSTICE ADVISORY
ON RULES ON MILITARY/POLICE CHECKPOINTS
This Department of Justice
(DOJ) Advisory (the â€œAdvisoryâ€�) is intended to address and advise the public on the
proper conduct of checkpoints to protect citizens, to serve as warning to
erring law enforcers and to weed out illegal checkpoints. The Advisory
summarizes law and jurisprudence to ensure that in the implementation of proper
search and seizure procedures at military or police checkpoints, civil,
political and human rights are not violated.
II. SUMMARY OF THE
Section 2, Article III of the Constitution provides for the right of the people
to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable
searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable,
and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable
cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or
affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and
particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to
Section 3, Article III also provides that any evidence obtained in violation of
the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.
- Election laws, rules and
The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) has issued guidelines on the
establishment of checkpoints to effectively implement the firearms ban during
election period pursuant to the powers vested in it by the Constitution,
Omnibus Election Code and other election laws.
- Supreme Court decisions
The Supreme Court, in several cases, has ruled that not all checkpoints are
illegal. Those which are warranted by the exigencies of public order and
are conducted in a way least intrusive to motorists are allowed. For,
admittedly, routine checkpoints do intrude, to a certain extent, on motoristsâ€™ right to â€œfree
passage without interruption,â€� but it cannot be denied that, as a
rule, it involves only a brief detention of travelers during which the vehicleâ€™s occupants are required to answer a brief
question or two. For as long as the vehicle is neither searched not its
occupants subjected to a body search, and the inspection of the vehicle is
limited to a visual search, said routine checks cannot be regarded as violative of an individualâ€™s
right against unreasonable search. In fact, these routine checks, when
conducted in a fixed area, are even less intrusive. 
- Checkpoint – A place where
the millitary or police check vehicular or
pedestrian traffic in order to enforce circulation control measures and
other laws, orders, and regulations which involves only a brief detention
of travelers during which the vehicleâ€™s
occupants are required to answer a brief question or two.
- Brief detention – a brief
stoppage or interruption of travel or motion (in the context of the
conduct of checkpoints).
- Plain view – that which is
readily in sight of an officer who has a right to be in the position to
have that view.
- Probable cause – the
existence of such facts and circumstances as would lead a person of
ordinary caution and prudence to entertain an honest and strong suspicion
that the person charged is guilty of the crime subject of the
- Uniformed personnel – refers
to the AFP and/oor PNP personnel wearing their
respective service uniforms with the name plates and other identification
- Visual search – an eye search
using the â€˜plain viewâ€™
The general public is hereby advised on the rules on
military/police checkpoints as follows:
- CHECKPOINT MUST BE
WELL-LIGHTED, PROPERLY IDENTIFIED AND MANNED BY UNIFORMED PERSONNEL.
- Checkpoint guidelines provide
that all personnel manning legitimate checkpoints should be in service
uniform with the name plates and other identification tags clearly visible
- UPON APPROACH, SLOW DOWN, DIM
HEADLIGHTS AND TURN ON CABIN LIGHTS. NEVER STEP OUT OF THE VEHICLE.
- In a checkpoint inquiry,
the occupants cannot be compelled to step out of the vehicle. 
- LOCK ALL DOORS. ONLY
VISUAL SEARCH IS ALLOWED.
- The search which is normally
permissible is limited to visual search where the officer simply looks
into the vehicle and flashes a light therein without opening the carâ€™s door. 
- DO NOT SUBMIT TO A PHYSICAL
OR BODY SEARCH.
- The search which is normally
permissible is limited to an instance where the occupants are not
subjected to a physical or body search. 
- YOU ARE NOT OBLIGED TO OPEN
GLOVE COMPARTMENT, TRUNK OR BAGS.
- The personnel manning the
checkpoint cannot compel the motorist to open the trunk or glove
compartment of the car or any package contained therein. Such
extensive search requires the existence of probable cause. 
- ORDINARY/ROUTINE QUESTIONS
MAY BE ASKED. BE COURTEOUS BUT FIRM WITH ANSWERS.
- Checkpoint involves only a
brief detention of travelers during which the vehicleâ€™s
occupants are required to answer a brief question or two. 
- ASSERT YOUR RIGHTS, HAVE
PRESENCE OF MIND AND DO NOT PANIC.
- The constitutional immunity
against unreasonable searches and seizures is a personal right which may
be waived. Affirmative acts of volition without being forced or
intimidated to do so, shall properly be construed as a clear waiver of
- KEEP YOUR DRIVERâ€™S
LICENSE AND CAR REGISTRATION HANDY AND WITHIN REACH.
- To avoid delay and
inconvenience, ready the car registration documents for inspection, in
case requested by authorities.
- BE READY TO USE YOUR
CELLPHONE AT ANYTIME. SPEED DIAL EMERGENCY NUMBER.
- In case of violation in any
these standards, cellphones
can be used anytime to call emergency numbers: 117 (PNP) or (02)
- REPORT VIOLATIONS
IMMEDIATELY. YOUR ACTIONS MAY SAVE OTHERS.
- All violations shall be
reported to the authorities to ensure steps are taken to investigate
This Advisory is issued in line with the thrust of the Department to take a
pro-active stance and dynamic approach in criminal justice concerns and all are
enjoined to observe this Advisory.
LEILA M. DE LIMA