By Martin Sadongdong
Instead of guns, the 6,000 cops who will be deployed to secure the third State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Duterte on July 23, will only be armed will with batons and shields, the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) announced today.
NCRPO Director Guillermo Eleazar said the Security Task Force SONA will be comprised of 13 security sub-task groups and seven support sub-task groups that were created to ensure the security of the event.
However, in adherence to President Duterte and Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Oscar Albayalde’s orders, Eleazar said the security task force will not be armed with guns, contrary to what has been done in the past years.
“The directive of the President and the chief PNP is to exercise maximum tolerance and refrain from bringing guns. Instead, a baton would be used just for emergency and the shield as an umbrella in case it rains,” Eleazar stated.
“The additional security forces will be armed, but they will be positioned far from where the protesters are and they will not engage the rallyists,” he added.
Eleazar said they will also not use barbed wires and container vans to limit the protesters from advancing since it is not “necessary” and “pleasing to the eyes.”
“On Saturday, we will be holding a dialogue with both anti- and pro-Duterte rallyists so that we can inform them of the measures that will be established and avoid any untoward incidents,” he said.
Eleazar said protesters will either be allowed to hold their rally along Commonwealth Avenue just like the traditional way or be allowed until 100 meters away from the Batasang Pambansa just like what was done last year.
“So that’s Plan A and Plan B. Depending on the result of the dialogue with protest groups, we will finalize the security measures in the coming days,” he said.
Protest ban on foreigners
Meanwhile, foreigners who will be caught joining the SONA protest may face possible arrest and deportation, according to Eleazar.
“We will be coordinating with the Bureau of Immigration on this aspect so that they can help us if there are, in case, violations committed by foreigners [who will attend protests],” Eleazar said.
“We are reminding not only our ‘kababayans’ but also foreigners visiting our country, we welcome you here but definitely you should not join protest actions which could be against the law, if there are any, or Immigration orders,” he added.
In the spirit of transparency, representatives from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will also be invited to join the command center that will be established by the Security Task Force SONA.
“The guidance of the chief PNP is to coordinate with the CHR to join us in our command center or the communication van in monitoring the situation on the day of the SONA to account us,” Eleazar explained.
“In case some groups criticize us for doing our jobs, the CHR representatives will be there to see whether we really committed an offense or not. They will be our ‘unbiased defenders,'” he added.
Tags: Bureau of Immigration, CHR, Eleazar, Guillermo Eleazar, National Capital Region Police Office, Philippine National Police, President Duterte, protest, Security Task Force, Security Task Force SONA, State of the Nation Address