PNP keeping high alert

Oscar D. Albayalde

POLICE have not monitored any threats to the 4th State of the Nation Address by President Duterte tomorrow but they are not taking any chances and will tighten security during the event in light of the June 28 “suicide bombings” in Indanan, Sulu, Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde said yesterday.

The PNP chief said that as part of their strict security measures, police would conduct random inspection of belongings of protesters near the Batasang Pambansa complex in Quezon City.

National Capital Region Police Office director Major General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar had discouraged protesters from bringing in backpacks and large bags during the event but Gen. Albayalde said they cannot really prevent the people from carrying those materials where they can store food and drinks.\    “Most probably, the NCRPO will be conducting random inspections on the backpacks of participants, ng protesters doon.  For their own safety ‘yung ginagawa nating ito,” the PNP chief said.

Gen. Albayalde said police intelligence agents will also conduct monitoring at the rally sites to check the presence of possible infiltrators and saboteurs that may mingle with the demonstrators. Eleazar said that around 15,000 policemen and “force multipliers” will be securing the SONA area and the rest of the metropolis on Monday as Gen. Albayalde assured that they are already 100 percent prepared to address any contingency during the event.

Quezon City Police District director Brigadier General Joselito T. Esquivel Jr.  said they are all set for the SONA having conducted a series of coordinating conferences with their counterparts and other concerned agencies as early as last month to discuss their security preparations.

Last Monday, the QCPD held a Simulation Exercise (SIMEX) for hostage-taking and bomb explosion along IBP Road in Barangay Batasan and initiated a dialogue with leaders of cause-oriented groups and other stakeholders to thresh out specific concerns including traffic rerouting schemes for a peaceful and orderly SONA.

Esquivel and Eleazar have discussed the staging area and security of the demonstrators with protest leaders led by BAYAN Secretary General Renato Reyes Jr. and Pasang Masda president Roberto Martin.

“We have spoken to leaders of groups who would be holding protest rallies on Monday and have designated areas where the rally would be held. Ito ay bilang pag-respeto sa kanilang karapatan sa malayang pagpapahayag at pagsasagawa ng kanilang kilos protesta. Hinihiling lang natin na isagawa ito batay sa mga napagkasunduan,” said Esquivel.

He and Eleazar also led a “walk-thru inspection” in the area to inspect the deployment of personnel along Commonwealth Avenue during the SONA to ensure effective deployment and positioning of personnel.

Esquivel said a total of 3,333 QCPD personnel will be deployed in the area to be joined by 5,115 other officers from different PNP units, the Joint Task Force-National Capital Region of the Armed Forces, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, the Q.C. Department of Public Order and Safety, the Bureau of Fire Protection and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.

He added that apart from their SONA security operations, they will also continue their regular anti-crime operations to preempt any attempt by criminals to take advantage of the event.

Esquivel also reminded the public of temporary vehicle traffic rerouting on roads leading to and from the Batasang Pambansa Complex where the President is set to deliver his address.

“It would also be best … to just stay home, if possible until after the activity,” he said.

With John Christopher Balangat