Protesters Urged Not To Bring Bags, Wear Jackets On SONA Day

The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) on Monday urged militant groups and pro-government protesters to avoid wearing jackets and bringing bags during demonstrations on July 22, when President Rodrigo R. Duterte delivers his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA).

“We are asking them not to carry bags and wear jackets. But this is just a discouragement, we cannot prohibit them from doing it,” NCRPO Director Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar told reporters during Monday’s press briefing at Camp Crame.

Eleazar said his appeal was part of security measures aimed at peaceful and orderly conduct of protest actions.

This, amid security concerns after authorities recently confirmed that one of the two suicide bombers in a military camp that left six people dead was a Filipino.

“We are expecting at least 15,000 protesters based on the SONA last year,” Eleazar said.

Eleazar said that he would bring up the issue of urging protesters not to carry bags and wear jackets when he and leaders and organizers of protest actions meet again on Wednesday.

“There will be stakeholders meeting and dialogue to be followed on the ocular inspection site headed towards the House of Representatives as well the area were the rallyists are set to have their program during SONA,” Eleazar said.

The NCRPO chief said rallies will be allowed up to St. Peter Parish along Commonwealth Avenue “for as long as these are held peacefully”.

“As usual, our police will exercise maximum tolerance but at the same time we asked the militant groups to do their share and police their ranks to ensure a peaceful and orderly SONA day,” he said.

At least 9,000 cops and force multipliers will be deployed near the vicinity of the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City to provide security during the SONA.

Aside from the vicinity of the House of Representatives, Eleazar said NCRPO will secure places of convergence like malls and churches as well as vital installations like terminals, airports, and seaports.

He also assured security will be provided in Mendiola, the United States Embassy and Edsa Shrine, where rallies are expected to be held during the SONA.

He said the NCRPO recorded no violent dispersal of protesters since Duterte assumed the presidency in 2016. Eleazar said they have yet to detect any threat to security in relation to the upcoming SONA.

“We assure the public that no threats to security monitored or reported so far. But the PNP remains vigilant to prevent the occurrence of crimes and respond to any call for assistance,” Eleazar added. (PNA)

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