Police, protesters commend each other for ‘peaceful’ Sona
MANILA, Philippines — Both the police and protesters noted peaceful rallies in Quezon City on the day President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona), which they also attributed to each other’s camps.
Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, the director of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), told reporters that he did not receive any report of untoward incidents during the protests.
“Very peaceful. Pagkatapos ng tatlong Sona na meron kaming napag-usapan, sa totoo lang, wala akong duda na magkakaroon tayo ng problema,” he told reporters after the United People’s Sona held in front of St. Peter’s Parish on Commonwealth Avenue.
[It was very peaceful. After three years of Sona where we had agreements, to be honest, I did not have any doubt that we will not have any problem.]
Nevertheless, he said the police — around 14,000 officers deployed in Metro Manila including 8,500 in Quezon City alone where the Batasang Pambansa is situated — remained alert to deal with unexpected scenarios.
“Pero hindi ako nagduda na magiging maganda at maayos yung aming Sona,” he said.
[But I did not doubt we will have a good and orderly Sona.]
Eleazar said no arrests were made.
“Yung nakita natin sa mga lessons learned natin dito is about the confrontation between the police and rallyists naperfect natin na wala for the past three years,” he said.
[One of the lessons learned here is that the confrontation between the police and rallyists has not occurred in the past three years.]
Moving forward, he said the police would want to lessen the impact of Sona protests to traffic.
Renato Reyes, secretary-general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, thanked Eleazar for initiating a dialogue with protesting groups to ensure order in the rallies.
“Nais namin magpasalamat kay NCRPO director Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar dahil he took the initiative para mag-usap. Pag ganoon naman wala tayong dapat alalahanin,” he said.
[We want to thank NCRPO director Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar because he took the initiative to talk. We don’t have to worry anything if that’s the case.]
He also said that rallyists had proven that they did not want to initiate chaos in staging protests.
“Natapos natin ‘yung programa. Extended lang pero nakapagpahayag naman tayo ngayong araw ng nakikita nating totoong state of the nation,” he said.
[We were able to end our program. It was just extended but we were able to express today what we see is the true state of the nation.]
Reyes was not able to listen to the President’s Sona since the main event of the United People’s Sona coincided with the President’s speech.
Asked if he hopes Duterte had tackled issues they were discussing in the protests during his speech, he said: “I don’t think he was listening.”
Bayan estimated around 25,000 protesters gathered along Commonwealth Avenue at around 3 p.m., but the NCRPO only projects around 5,600 anti-government rallyists during this time.
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