Higher penalties for people breaking police cordon in Baguio pushed

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The City Council approved on third and final reading a proposed ordinance amending certain provisions of Ordinance No. 22, series of 2012, prohibiting any person to cross or breach a police line cordon, providing penalties for violations and providing for other purposes wherein violators will be meted higher penalties.

The ordinance authored by all members of the city legislative body states that a fine of P5,000 and/or imprisonment of 30 days at the discretion of the court shall be imposed on any person who shall cross, enter, or breach a police line cordon set up by the Philippine National Police (PNP) or other law enforcement agencies on occasion of actual confrontation with criminal elements, during rescue and firefighting operations, and during the investigation of a crime or incident.

Further, any person who destroys or causes the destruction of the police line cordon without the authority of the PNP or other law enforcement agencies who set up the same because of its ongoing investigation of a crime or during rescue and firefighting operations, shall likewise be penalized under the clause of the ordinance.

The ordinance stipulates any person who alters, tinkers or removes any physical or documentary evidence shall likewise be penalized under the pertinent provisions of the proposed local legislative measure.

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Under the proposed amendatory ordinance, police line cordon is defined as a demarcation line which is drawn by law enforcement officers who are involved in a legitimate or lawful crime scene or fire investigation or response wherein its main purpose is to prevent bystanders, ‘ usiseros,’ or kibitzers or other individuals not involved in such operation, response or investigation from getting near the crime scene and it is usually, but not necessarily, indicated by a yellow trip of clothing or other material which bears in bold face the words ‘ POLICE LINE. DO NOT CROSS” or  anything which are place or installed by the police authorities intending to restrict unauthorized persons to enter the crime scene while physical or documentary evidence refers to things or any items and positioning of anything like doors, chairs, or any similar materials that are left in the crime scene which are presumably untouched, moved, or altered and it includes documents or records that can be used as evidence in solving a crime.

Earlier, Police Col. Allen Rae F. Co, Director of the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO), in his letter dated September 30, 2019, to Vice Mayor Faustino A. Olowan, responded to the legislative monitoring and evaluation conducted by the research division of the local legislative body on Ordinance No. 22, 2012 which prohibits any person to cross or breach a police line cordon, providing penalties for violations thereof and providing for other purposes wherein he recommended that a provision shall also be added prohibiting any person who shall destroy or cause to destroy a police line cordon in the city without proper authority from the PNP or other law enforcement agencies that established the said line in relation with its ongoing investigation.

He added that the penalty to be imposed against any person found guilty of destroying or causing the destruction of the police shall also be the same as that which is imposable against any person found to have crossed or breached the said police line.

By Dexter A. See
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