Truncheonless, shieldless cops to face off vs SONA protesters
After doing away with the barricades which always surround the Batasan complex for the President’s State of the Nation Address (Sona), the Philippine National Police (PNP) will also field 6,000 antiriot personnel without shields or truncheons.
National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Oscar Albayalde said that confrontations or even violence would be avoided as much as possible on Monday.
Speaking to reporters at the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame, Albayalde said that protesters, just like last year, would be allowed to go within 15 to 20 meters of the south gate of the Batasang Pambansa complex.
“We will also practice maximum tolerance and respect for human rights,” Albayalde said, explaining antiriot policemen would be in complete uniform although they would not be carrying shields, batons or even firearms.
“We will not have container vans. We will not have barbed wires. We will not have barricades,” he said, adding that the Fairview-bound lane of Commonwealth Avenue would be divided into two to allow both protesters and motorists to occupy it.
A six-kilometer radius “no-fly zone” for drones and helicopters will be enforced. More personnel, however, will be deployed as security because of a wider area to secure.
Albayalde said that some 6,000 police personnel would make up the civil disturbance management contingent.
The augmentation force will be made up of arresting officers, intelligence personnel and Special Weapons and Tactics teams as well as medical units and members of the Bureaus of Fire Protection and Jail Management and Penology.
According to Albayalde, mobile jails will be placed on standby “in case there are troublemakers and arrests will have to be made.”
He said he had asked the leaders of militant groups to police their own ranks.
“We can hold protests without violence. They can shout at the top of their lungs and we will tolerate them. But once they hurt others or damage property, we cannot tolerate that,” Albayalde stressed.
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