No guns for cops on SONA dutyBy DJ Yap
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—None of the 6,000 police officers to be deployed to secure the President’s State of the Nation Address next week will be allowed to carry guns, the Philippine National Police said Friday.
PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr. said National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director Alan Purisima gave the assurance at a recent meeting with various groups, including leaders of militant organizations that plan to stage protests.
As of the last informal agreement, Cerbo said, the protesters would be allowed up to the Ever Gotesco mall on Commonwealth Avenue, unlike in past years when they were permitted to demonstrate only in front of the St. Peter’s Parish Church about a kilometer away.
He said a representative from the parish requested the protesters not to occupy the area in front of the church in order not to disrupt its activities.
Earlier, the Philippine National Police said some 6,000 anti-riot and crowd control troops will secure the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City where President Benigno Aquino will deliver his annual address to both houses of Congress.
The PNP has formed a “super task force” led by the NCRPO and supported by contingents from police regional commands in various places in Luzon and other support units.
“We are calling it a super task force because it will involve not only personnel from NCRPO. In order to be ready for this event, we have tasked other units like Regions 1, 2, 3, 4-A and the Cordillera region to send their own contingents,” he told a press briefing.
The PNP’s Police Security and Protection Group based in Camp Crame will escort VIPs who will attend the SONA, while the PNPs elite Special Action Force will also be standing guard, Cerbo added.
Cerbo said PNP forces have been instructed to continue the PNP’s maximum-tolerance policy toward demonstrators. As for pro-government supporters, he said, a separate area will be provided for them.