Mandaue checkpoints questioned anew
Jojo (not his real name) was dozing off inside a public utility jeepney (PUJ) bound for a mall in Mandaue City one night last week when he was suddenly roused out sleep.
The 22-year-old graphic designer’s sleep was disrupted when the jeepney suddenly stopped in front of a supermarket along M. Logarta Ave. at the North Reclamation Area (NRA) side of Mandaue City.
Now wide awake, Jojo said he saw uniformed police officers asking some of the men on board the PUJ to disembark, open their bags, and reveal the contents of their pockets.
“They said it was an inspection. And I was both scared and shocked because it just happened then and there,” Jojo told Cebu Daily News on Saturday.
“I wasn’t told to disembark but I was really nervous at that time because the male passenger sitting beside me dropped something from his pocket. I only heard murmurs that the police were searching for possible drug suspects,” he added.
Jojo also recalled the reports of a similar incident that happened in 2017.
“I only read it on the news and heard from the radio. But I did not expect that I would experience it,” he added.
This was not the first time the operatives of the Mandaue City Police were linked to “questionable” searches during checkpoints.
In September 2017, they were placed under scrutiny by the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) after the latter received reports that male passengers on PUJs were told to disembark and open their bags. But the Mandaue policemen defended their move, saying that the random checkpoints were meant to apprehend drug suspects.
June 22 arrests
Records from the Mandaue City Police Office (MCPO) showed that on Friday, June 22, the Centro Police Station has arrested 19 individuals at a checkpoint and during a buy-bust operation.
Although they were yet to receive formal complaints from citizens, Chief Insp. Mercy Villaro, MCPO information officer, told Cebu Daily News in a separate phone interview yesterday that they would look into the matter as soon as possible.
“We’re going to discuss that with our city director (Senior Supt. Roberto Alanas) next week. But we’re still not sure on what steps to take next considering we haven’t received any information about it yet,” said Villaro.
She also assured that while the police are allowed to conduct random checkpoints, they are also required to always adhere to operational procedures and guidelines when conducting checkpoints.
“Conducting checkpoints really depend on the nature of the situation. But for me, personally, forcing people to disembark from the jeepney and search their bags should be discouraged,” said Villaro.
On the other hand, Supt. Reyman Tolentin, PRO-7 information officer, urged those who find the checkpoints inconvenient and intrusive to file formal complaints before their office or any police station concerned.
“We haven’t received any information on these recent checkpoints and searching for bags but we’d like to call the public to come to us so that we can provide the necessary actions,” said Tolentin.
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