A military source on Friday disclosed that the terror threat before and during President Rodrigo Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 24 has been evaluated as “moderate.”
The source told reporters that at a “moderate” stage or at Level 3 police visibility will be felt in strategic places and critical infrastructures including the La Mesa Dam, oil depots, air and sea ports, railways and bus terminals.
The Quezon City Police District (QCPD) on Friday said it would implement tighter security measures for the event.
Two weeks before the SONA, QC Police and the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) presented the 2017 security plan which has the same setup with the President’s previous SONA.
According to QCPD Director Chief Supt. Guillermo Eleazar, 6,000 police personnel will be deployed in areas surrounding the Batasan Complex.
Earlier, the House of Representatives announced security measures within the Batasan Complex will be tightened citing terror threats and threats coming from drug suspects who will allegedly finance the disruption of the President’s second SONA.
Right after the pronouncement from the lower chamber, however, the military assured that so far, the Joint Task Force in Metro Manila has not monitored any threats.
“Just like the previous SONA, we have sub-task groups. These are groups of CDM (Civil Disturbance Management) deployed along different strategic locations, so that we can assist the rallies and at the same time, we can implement the security plan,” Eleazar said during a press conference in Quezon City.
“We believe that these personnel are enough for us to be able to maintain orderliness in the conduct of the SONA,” he added.
NCRPO Director Oscar Albayalde assured members of the militant groups that police personnel will exercise maximum tolerance during the event.
“We look forward to a civilized and peaceful 2017 SONA of President Duterte,” he told the media.
Similar to the 2016 SONA, protesters will be allowed to march to the front of the south gate of the Batasan Complex near the House Plenary hall where President Duterte will deliver his speech.
The protesters will also be allowed to occupy two lanes of the eastbound lane on Batasan Road.
Albayalde reiterated that police personnel would not use shields and vests during the event since the Philippine National Police does not want to appear like they are intimidating the militant groups.
He also asked the militant groups to cooperate with police personnel and added that not only the legislators will be protected during the event but also ordinary Filipinos.
“We do not tolerate police brutality or abuse of authority provided that we onserve our laws,” he said.
Meanwhile, the militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said it will conduct a big protest rally on July 24, following a protest vigil on Sunday where they will give their message to President Duterte.
with ELSHAMAE ROBLES