MANILA, Philippines — Police described the State of the Nation Address on Monday as “generally peaceful” despite confrontations between police and militants that left some members of both sides injured.
“The Philippine National Police noted generally peaceful mass activities and public assemblies held by different cause-oriented groups today when President Benigno Aquino III delivered the State of the Nation Address before the joint session of both houses of Congress,” said Philippine National Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac in a statement.
He noted that the “overall situation remained peaceful and orderly even as mass protests by militant groups rose to tensions before noon, hours before Aquino was set to deliver his SONA.
As the number of militants swelled before 12 noon, protesters led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan destroyed the barricades between the east and west bound lanes near Ever Gotesco in Commonwealth, stalling traffic for about an hour.
“The security contingent from the National Capital Region Police Office under the command of Chief Superintendent Marcelo P Garbo Jr. stood their ground to keep the entire stretch of Commonwealth Avenue free from obstruction as the main route to and from the Batasang Pambansa Complex,” Sindac said.
Garbo, in an interview with reporters, said the peak of the crowd that conducted mass actions near Ever Gotesco was at 8,000.
He said four civilians were injured, while 11 cops also sustained injuries from the incident.
Earlier reports say 15 cops were injured.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Secretary General Renato Reyes, however, claimed that 41 were injured from their side and 10 of them were brought to East Avenue Medical Center. Two of the injured were senior citizens.
At least eight were arrested during the incident, with some of them detained at Camp Karingal.
The protesters pulled out before 5p.m., even before Aquino finished his one hour and 40-minute speech. They started to leave after burning the effigy of Aquino.
“The National Operations Center monitored no other significant incidents in the different regions of the country aside from pockets of mass actions in some key cities in the Visayas,” Sindac said.
“The PNP leadership extends its congratulations as well to the organizers of these groups for observing proper decorum and self-restraint in their activities today, consistent with the earlier agreement with the police ground commanders,” he added.