MANILA - All security preparations are in place, and there are no security threats looming over the Miss Universe coronation on Monday, though security arrangements will change if President Rodrigo Duterte arrives, a police official said.
Although Duterte's attendance has yet to be confirmed, seats are already reserved for the chief executive, said Police Director Oscar Albayalde, regional director of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO).
"Walang confirmation [sa pagdating ni Duterte], although the seats are reserved. Mayroon nang seat ang president doon right in front. I think about 10 seats were reserved," said Albyalde Friday.
(There has not been any confirmation of Duterte’s arrival, although the seats are reserved. He has a seat right in front. I think about 10 seats were reserved.)
“The security protocol will change upon the arrival of the president… ang protocol, the PSG (Presidential Security Group) takes over, firearms ng ating mga armadong [tauhan] (our armed personnel’s firearms), it will be taken over by the PSG,” he said.
Also, as there is “always that possibility of a retaliatory act,” they have strengthened their security measures at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay, and intensified monitoring of “critical” places that groups deemed potential threats can use as hideouts or lairs.
The government will be deploying over 1,858 uniformed police, as well as around 200 members of the Armed Forces, and 150 members of the Philippine Coast Guard to oversee security on Monday.
“Doon sa loob ng MOA Arena, where the event will be held, mayroon tayo around 267 uniformed personnel sa loob mismo ng SM Arena. Sa loob ng event, they are not in uniform. Nobody is allowed to bear firearms except our snipers,” Albayalde said.
Security personnel inside the pageant venue are expected to watch over an at least 15,000-strong crowd “mostly made up of very important people (VIPs),” he said.
“Ang crowd natin, mostly dito, mga VIPs, kasi mahal ang tickets. Sold out ang tickets, so we expect 15,000 crowd here,” he said.
Meanwhile, security in surrounding areas will also be tight, he said, as they have ramped up security measures and implemented counter-terrorist operations in Metro Manila before Miss Universe ceremonies on January 30.
“Sa surrounding areas mayroon na tayong mga 3-4 checkpoint operations a day. Iyong ating paneling [gamit ang mga asong nakakaamoy ng bomba], we conduct it 3 times a day,” Albayalde said.
(We conduct around 3-4 checkpoint operations a day in surrounding areas. We also do inspections using bomb-sniffing dogs about 3 times a day.)
X-ray machines and metal detectors were also placed around MOA Arena entrances, which will be manned by police transportation security personnel.
However, he clarified that authorities will not be jamming signals on Monday to avoid interfering with event organizers’ efforts to coordinate the event.
“May experience sa coordination sa Cebu [sa Sinulog]. Nagkaproblema sila, nag-cutoff sila so nagkaproblema sa coordination,” he said.
Authorities had recently jammed cellphone signals during the Sinulog Festival in Cebu, and the Black Nazarene procession in Manila as a security measure to foil possible attacks.