PNP: All systems go for SONA 2018

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(File photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 19) — The Philippine National Police (PNP) is all set for President Rodrigo Duterte's third State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' On the Record Thursday, Quezon City Police District (QCPD) Director C/Supt. Joselito Esquivel said it was "all systems go."

National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Chief CSupt. Guillermo Eleazar said they have spoken to leaders of groups who would be holding protest rallies on Monday and have designated areas where the rally would be held.

"Right now, they requested that they will be staying at Commonwealth Avenue," Eleazar said.

During the last two SONAs, he said, the groups staged their protests near the Batasang Pambansa.

Pro-Duterte groups would also be holding their own rally, and they would be the ones near the Batasang Pambansa.

Eleazar said they were not anticipating any trouble on SONA day.

"Hindi natin nakikita yun, kasi nga based on our experience with these groups – particularly the militant groups – dahil meron tayong usapan. We came to an agreement," he said.

[Translation: We do not see that happening because based on our experience with these groups - particularly the militant groups- because have an understanding. We came to an agreement.]

Guidelines have been set, Eleazar said, and any violation to the guidelines would mean an intervention from the police. He also said holding a dialogue with the groups for the past two SONAs have resulted in no untoward incidents.

And like the previous SONAs of President Duterte, there would be no barbed wire and container van barriers, and members of the Civil Disturbance Management (CDM) contingent would not be carrying firearms.

"Only shields would be used na...ginagamit nating umbrella pag umuulan," Eleazar said.

[Translation: Only shields would be used...which we also use like umbrellas when it rains.]

Security teams would be present, however they would be located at a distance from the rallyists and would only be called in to intervene if necessary.

Eleazar added at least 7,000 personnel from the PNP would be deployed and they would be augmented by the joint Task Force NCR of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Metro Manila Development Authority, the Department of Public Order and Safety of the Quezon City local government unit, Bureau of Fire Protection, and other agencies.

"We are hoping for a peaceful SONA," he said.

There would be 13 security sub-task groups and eight support sub-task groups (SSTG) as well.

The security sub-task groups would be made up of the CDM to be deployed in various areas and the support sub-task groups would have the additional support of the SSTG Karapatan led by a human rights officer.

"We have requested the CHR (Commission on Human Rights) to supply us with their representative," Eleazar said.

Esquivel added that it was a continuing plan, given the concerns and demands of both anti and pro groups.

"We are now at the end of our final coordination of the antis and the pros. Parang tapat-tapat na ngayon kasi magmo-move 40,000 yung pros, 40,000 din yung anti. And we have a specific space," he said.

[Translation: We are now at the end of our final coordination of the antis and the pros. They have equal numbers because 40,000 will be from the prose, 40,000 for the antis. And we have a specific place.]

Of the groups, Eleazar said this was the first time protest groups have joined together.

Esquivel added their template for the preparations would be similar to the "ASEAN template.'

Watch the full episode here: