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Know what to do during a random search by the police

What should you do during a random search by policemen without a warrant? Know your rights.


police random search

Photo by Shubert Ciencia. Some rights reserved.

“I can’t believe I have to sit my kids down and teach them how to protect themselves against people whose job is to protect others.”

“Who will police the police?”

These are anxious questions by mothers who are disturbed by policemen doing a bag search inside bars in the Katipunan area. Many of my friends’ kids study in the Katipunan area so I find such operations very alarming. Whether the “Oplan Bakal” operations were all done aboveboard, it is a violation of our privacy.

The question is how can our kids protect themselves?

How can parents educate their children?

Dino De Leon tells parents to “please orient your kids and check if you have an immediate contact with a lawyer.” The police are supposed to protect us but with the recent killings of kids, can the police really do its job in protecting our children? His friendly legal advice is “as a general rule, the police cannot just randomly search you without a search warrant.” So, If a police officer approaches you, check what you can do:

1. Be relaxed. Smile. Ask why you are being approached.

2. If they ask to touch you or inspect your belongings, politely decline and ask for legal basis/reason why they want to search your things or frisk you. Again, politely decline.

3. If they insist, politely and calmly demand for their names and identification. Send the names to your closest relatives ASAP if still practicable. Call your parents or closest kin ASAP and ask them to contact a lawyer as well as soon as possible.

4. Ask friends to take a video or personally record what’s happening if possible.

5. While everything is happening, as much as possible, stay with friends who can hear and/or see everything that is happening.

6. Remember the names and faces of the police officers as this may be important later on.

7. After the inspection and if your are not taken into custody, check the surroundings. Check if there’s a CCTV. Secure copies if need be. Check as well with security, if it is inside an establishment, if they were able to log-in the indentities of the police officers.

8. If you are taken into custody, demand to be able to make a call ASAP and tell those who are seeing what’s happening to call your parents/relatives/closest kin. Be vigilant and remember as much as possible where they are taking you. Do not antagonize them and remain calm.

9. Equally important, after everything, study the possibility of filing a case against the police officers afterwards if there are violations. This is crucial to put an end to these things.

10. For relatives called, immediately a) call a lawyer; b) find out where your kin has been taken; c) proceed to the location of your kin as soon as you find out where. Ask for a copy of the report of the arresting police officers and show to your lawyer ASAP. Secure the things mentioned in number 7 and the written accounts of witnesses.

Image via NGO Karapatan. Some rights reserved.

This right is found in our Philippine Constitution in Article III Section 2.

Section 2. 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 be seized.

The government, especially the police, cannot search nor seize anything from you without a warrant subject only to some exemptions.

The advice given by a lawyer below as concurred by my husband-lawyer is useful advice in addition to that given by Dino.

police random search

police random search

All of us need to be vigilant.

Dino is right . “It’s time to take part in standing up for our rights. Let’s be courageous and collectively fight.”


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