MANILA – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. assured that the police would exercise maximum tolerance for those who would stage demonstrations for President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.'s second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 24.
“Yung ating mga kapulisan naman trained na sa mga operations na yan (Our police are trained for this kind of operations). We oftentimes hear the words maximum tolerance, observation of human rights,” Acorda said in a press conference in Camp Crame, Quezon City on Monday, as he disclosed that the PNP has made preparations for the activity.
On whether rallies will be allowed near the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City where the President will deliver his address, Acorda said there are "designated areas" for such protests.
"We have certain limitations on that (where to hold protests)," said Acorda.
Brig. Gen. Limuel Obon, PNP Human Rights Affairs Office director, said police officers who would be deployed in protest areas would not bear firearms.
“With our experience doon sa SONA na nasa QC tayo . Now that I am also with human rights, we will ensure na balanced talaga diyan. Of course firearm, no-no talaga yan in big gatherings like that and our human rights personnel will be there to remind and monitor yung mga kaganapan para walang malabag na karapatan natin mga kapulisan ganun din yung paglabag ng mga nag-express din ng kanilang rights (With our experience there in SONA when we were in QC. Now that I am also with human rights, we will ensure that it is really balanced. Of course firearms, that's really a no-no in big gatherings like that and our human rights personnel will be there to remind and monitor the events so that there is no violation of our rights by the police, the same goes for the violation of those who express their rights as well),” Obon explained.
He added that the PNP has constant communication and coordination with Commission on Human Rights.
Acorda also said that there will be no "overkill" when it comes to police deployment in the upcoming SONA of the President.
He also said they will come up with a "minimum requirement" on the number of police personnel who would be deployed to secure the SONA.
Acorda said National Capital Region Police Office director Maj. Gen. Edgar Alan Okubo will be the "commander on the ground."
Acorda said the PNP does not want the streets to be affected by traffic congestion. "It should be business as usual, except that people will be listening to the message of the President," he said.
Acorda said the PNP is continuously conducting threat assessments for the SONA.
Some 22,000 policemen and "force multipliers" were deployed to secure Marcos' first SONA last year.
Article 7, Section 23 of the Constitution requires the President to “address the Congress at the opening of its regular session”.
The Philippine President delivers the SONA every year, usually held every last Monday of July, to report the state of the country, unveil the administration’s agenda and ask Congress to pass priority measures. (PNA)