MANILA The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) has begun preparations aimed at maintaining peace and order in the upcoming fourth State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo R. Duterte on July 22.
NCRPO director, Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said he will directly supervise the security preparations and operations in Metro Manila.
He directed all his police district directors to strengthen anti-criminality measures and police visibility operations all over the NCR, particularly during the SONA.
Eleazar said he would sit down with leaders of anti- and pro-Duterte forces next month for them to determine the places they would occupy during the SONA.
"We wanted to hear what the two forces wanted for us at the NCRPO command staff to discuss how to secure them. We don't want them to be in the same places as what they are preaching or shouting might ignite trouble," the Metro Manila top cop told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
According to Eleazar, the NCRPO has a prepared template for the security of the event but they wanted to talk to all stakeholders so the SONA would be peaceful and orderly.
"We are prepared for all scenarios. However, we cannot attain our goal of a peaceful SONA if we fail to address the concerns of the pro- and anti-Duterte forces," he added.
Eleazar said the dialogue aims to establish coordination, cooperation, and understanding between the police, stakeholders, community leaders, and cause-oriented groups on self-policing, no-permit no-rally policy, traffic rerouting, and other public services.
He, however, warned that the police would not hesitate to use force if the protesters become unruly.
As usual, our police will exercise maximum tolerance but at the same time we asked the militant groups to do their share and police their ranks to ensure a peaceful and orderly SONA day, he added.
Eleazar said demonstrators will not be prevented from holding rallies for as long as these are held peacefully.
He noted that policemen will not be armed with shields and truncheons as an act of goodwill while shipping containers and barbed wires will not be laid out just like they did for the past three years along Batasan Road and Commonwealth Ave.
I am expecting na itong SONA na darating ay wala rin tayo ilalagay. Pero nasa pag-uusap po yan at open ho kami sa dialogue with those leaders ng mga grupo na lalahok, (I am expecting that in this coming SONA, we will not put anything. But we're open for dialogue with leaders of the groups who will join (the protest), Eleazar said.
He said they have yet to detect any threat to security in relation to Duterte's upcoming SONA.
Earlier, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief, Gen. Oscar Albayalde, said at least 9,000 policemen would secure the President's 4th SONA.
Albayalde said the PNP Civil Disturbance Management units, along with their counterparts in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, have been holding competitions to hone their skills in dealing with protesters, not only in Metro Manila but nearby police regional offices such as Central Luzon, Calabarzon and Special Action Force.
This is one way of preparing our people for SONA, Albayalde said.
He noted that there was no recorded violent dispersal of protesters staging mass actions since Duterte assumed the presidency in 2016. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency