PNP assures: COVID-19 will not be used to break up SONA protests
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police will not use the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic as an excuse to arrest protesters during the President’s fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 27.
“We want to care for our people by being there to remind them and assist so that they can observe the minimum health standards to express their opinion so we assure the public, we are not thinking of such thing to crack down dissent or dissenters,” PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said over ANC on Friday when asked if the PNP will use the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to break up protests during the SONA.
Meanwhile, Banac said the PNP will field over 5,000 police officers in Metro Manila to secure as well as assist the protesters during the SONA.
“We are looking at around 5,000 cops to be on standby on Monday for various places in Metro Manila, not just in Quezon City where the SONA will be held. We will also be maintaining social distancing, we will stay far from protesters. We want to also protect ourselves from getting infected by the virus,” Banac said.
President Rodrigo Duterte will be delivering his address personally at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City with a limited number of Cabinet members and lawmakers attending, to promote social distancing and help contain the spread of COVID-19.
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