• 6,000 policemen to be deployed for SONA

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    THE Philippine National Police will deploy 6,000 policemen to keep the peace and secure the House of Representatives where President Rodrigo Duterte will deliver his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) ON Monday, July 24.

    READY FOR THE BIG DAY
    A worker arranges the photographs of lawmakers at the House of Representatives as Congress prepares for the second State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Duterte on July 24, 2017. PHOTO BY MIKE DE JUAN

    Metro Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde, in a news briefing on Tuesday, said the police are prepared to deal with the estimated 10,000 to 15,000 protesters who are expected to hold rallies near the Batasang Pambansa.

    “We have conducted dialogues with different stakeholders, with our fellow Filipinos from the militant groups and of course with barangay (village) officials that will be affected in the Batasan,” he told reporters.

    For this year’s SONA, Albayalde said protesters will be allowed to go near the South gate of the House of Representatives.

    Duterte, Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo, cabinet officials and lawmakers will enter the House through the south gate.

    Just like last year, policemen will observe maximum tolerance in dealing with the protesters.

    However, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology will provide mobile jails where rallyists who will commit criminal acts will be detained.

    Members of the Special Weapons and Tactics team as well as personnel from the Bureau of Fire Protection.

    The House of Representatives has also tightened its security measures in preparation for the second SONA, claiming that drug syndicates and other groups may sow chaos.

    Albayalde however said the Metro police force has not monitored any threat.
    The Metro Manila police force remains on high alert.

    “All people are already accounted for. All people that will be deployed already have lists and we already obtained augmentations from all government agencies,” Albayalde said.

    No barricades

    Albayalde said that unlike in past SONAs, no barricades will be set up to stop rallysts.

    The Fairview-bound lane of Commonwealth Avenue will be divided into two to allow motorists to pass. Last year, protesters occupied the entire lane, creating huge traffic jams.

    “The President does not want to have a lockdown or any complaints coming from the motorists as he delivers his SONA,” Albayalde said.

    The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will also deploy troops.

    “We already have battalions on standby but normally we can give forces, we also have timeline for each deployment of our troops in support to the NCRPO,” said Col. Vic Tomas, deputy commander of the AFP’s Joint Task Force National Capital Region.

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