None of the 6,000 police officers will be carrying guns, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has assured leaders of militant groups planning to stage protests during President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (Sona).
The PNP also enjoined protesters to bring wet weather gear to avoid getting drenched— and not just from the rain.
Some 31 fire trucks are to be deployed in strategic locations in Metro Manila, along with nine ambulances, as part of the security measures during the Sona, an event usually marked by antigovernment demonstrations.
The fire trucks and ambulances will be there to provide security and support in case of an emergency, said the Bureau of Fire Protection-National Capital Region (BFP-NCR).
Some 283 firefighters and paramedics will be deployed “to assist and to render medical assistance or first aid in case of injuries and will right away bring casualties if there be any to nearby hospitals,” said Chief Supt. Santiago Laguna, BFP-NCR director.
The PNP earlier said some 6,000 antiriot and crowd control troops would secure the House of Representatives in Quezon City where the President will deliver the annual address.
The military’s Standing Joint Task Force-National Capital Region, which replaced the National Capital Region Command, will serve as a standby force.
Protesters at Gotesco
Protesters will be allowed to go as far as Ever Gotesco mall on Commonwealth Avenue, unlike in previous Sonas when they were permitted to stage pickets in front of St. Peter’s Parish chapel about a kilometer away, said PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr.
He said the parish had requested that the protesters not occupy the area in front of the church in order not to disrupt church services.
Cerbo said the PNP would continue to observe maximum tolerance during the protests.
He said a separate area had been provided for progovernment demonstrators.
The PNP has formed a “super task force” to secure Monday’s event, composed of the National Capital Region Police Office, supported by contingents sent by police regional offices in Luzon as well as other support units.
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 said.