SONA target is zero incidents

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The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) will deploy 7,358 policemen to be augmented by 1,100 more from the police regional offices, 300 from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and 404 from other government agencies.

NCRPO chief P/Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said the deployment is to ensure zero untoward incidents during President Rodrigo Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address on 22 July.

Eleazar said an inspection of Commonwealth Avenue and the IBP Road leading to the House of Representatives will be conducted by the NCRPO and the Quezon City Police District (QCPD).

He added that a stakeholders’ meeting and dialogue next week will be followed by an ocular inspection of the site where the protesters are set to have their program during the SONA.

The head of the Metro Manila police office said that meetings between House security officials and the inter-agency task force created to oversee SONA preparations have already been concluded.

Eleazar said he has met with groups dissatisfied with the present administration to assure them that their right to be heard will be respected as long as they keep to the agreements reached during the meeting.

Eleazar says they are shooting for a repeat of ‘zero incidents’ last year.

There were zero incidents during the third SONA, Eleazar told the Daily Tribune during an office visit this year. He said they are keeping the same formula for a repeat this year.

Eleazar said rallies may be held along Commonwealth Avenue up to St. Peter Parish “for as long as these are held peacefully.”

If protesters are caught violating any of the rules set during their dialogue, the police would not hesitate to use force, especially if they become unruly, he warned.

The usual maximum tolerance will be exercised but militant groups were asked to do their share and to police their ranks to ensure a peaceful and orderly SONA day.

The metro top cop noted that there was no recorded violent dispersal of protesters staging mass actions since Duterte assumed the presidency in 2016.

During the SONA, 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 in the past three years along Batasan Road and Commonwealth Avenue.

Security along Mendiola, United States Embassy and the EDSA Shrine will also be tightened.

On the other hand, the Metro Manila top cop assured that police will continue its anti-criminality campaign that day against lawless elements.

The police official also bared that the NCRPO will secure places of convergence like malls and churches as well as vital installations like terminals, airports, and seaports.

Eleazar said he will directly supervise the security preparations and operations in Metro Manila which includes the deployment of more than 15,000 security troops.

This figure includes contingents from JTF-NCR and other law enforcement, traffic and disaster response agencies.

JTF-NCR is the military formation tasked to protect Metro Manila from all forms of threats.

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