MANILA - The head of the Philippine National Police on Monday reminded his men that they are not allowed to carry weapons at the frontline of protests that are set to mark President Rodrigo Duterte's second State of the Nation Address.
"I have reminded all the police personnel deployed in Batasan to exercise maximum tolerance as they prepare for major rallies today," PNP chief Director General Roland "Bato" Dela Rosa told reporters at Camp Crame hours ahead of the SONA.
"They will not use their guns or even canes, instead they will slowly move with their riot shields while dispersing the crowd."
Dela Rosa said he expects activists, in turn, to maintain peace among their own ranks.
"I expect na naka-deploy na yung tropa natin. Naka-deploy na rin ang mga militante, iyung mga magpoprotesta. I expect na cool lang sila, relax mode, walang tensyon dapat, walang unnecessary stress," he said.
Some 6,300 policemen and 300 soldiers will be deployed to secure the SONA, more than last year's 4000-strong contingent, the National Capital Region Police Office earlier said.
Administration critics, NCRPO said, will be allowed to protest Monday at the corner of Batasan and Sinagtala roads, about 900 meters away from the legislative complex where Duterte will deliver his SONA.
Activist groups have started converging near Batasan as of this posting. -- With Maan Macapagal, ABS-CBN News