MANILA With two weeks left before the fourth state of the nation address (SONA) of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) has set dialogues with groups of rallyists to ensure safety and peace and order during the July 22 event.
NCRPO director, Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said talks with leaders of pro- and anti-Duterte groups this coming week are part of the SONA preparations.
"We wanted to hear what the two forces want us to do to secure them. We don't want them to be in the same place as shouting might ignite trouble," Eleazar said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Saturday.
Eleazar said demonstrators will not be prevented from holding rallies for as long as these are held peacefully.
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 said.
The NCRPO chief said 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 Avenue.
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.
He said they have yet to detect any threat to security in relation to Duterte's upcoming SONA.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Gen. Oscar Albayalde earlier 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.
He noted no violent dispersal of protesters has been recorded since Duterte assumed the presidency in 2016. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency