Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
At the stroke of midnight last January 13, the election period officially started in the Philippines and the Commission on Elections, together with the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, will be enforcing the election gun ban that will last until the elections are over. Gun ban violators may face jail time of six years and lose the right to vote and run for public office.
In order to ensure that the gun ban is being followed, checkpoints will be deployed all over the country and motorists who encounter such checkpoints at night are advised to dim their headlights, turn on the interior lights of their vehicles and roll down their windows in order to avoid suspicion, and expedite the process. The public is also reminded that the checkpoint has to be clearly identified and that the officers conducting the inspection have to be in complete uniform.
Checkpoints are still fresh in the minds of the public, especially after the notorious one in Antimonan town, Quezon province where 13 people were killed in a supposed gun battle that is now being investigated as an joint police-military ambush instead of a legitimate checkpoint, and it would be a good idea for the PNP, the AFP and the Comelec personnel manning checkpoints to take that particular concern into consideration by being extra careful and by following all the rules in order to assure the public that they will interact with while conducting checkpoint operations.
Aside from complying with the bare minimum requirements that include clearly identifying the purpose of the check point, being in complete uniform (including name tags), and having a marked vehicle in the area, the AFP, the PNP and the Comelec should also consider taking the extra step to assure the public by posting contact numbers or hotlines where the public can easily make inquiries regarding checkpoints or call to complain if they feel that they have been treated improperly by any checkpoint personnel. The public would also appreciate it if checkpoints are planned in such a way that they can be conducted efficiently and with minimal disruption to their daily lives.
Despite advances in technology, checkpoints are still the best way to remind the public of the election gun ban and ensure that it is being followed. It is now entirely up to the people in charge of those checkpoints to make sure that the entire process is as assuring, safe, and painless as possible.*