NCRPO chief: Police won't hesitate to use force vs disobedient SONA rallyists

Anjo Bagaoisan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 21 2019 04:29 PM | Updated as of Jul 21 2019 04:54 PM

The police will not hesitate to use force against both supporters and critics of President Rodrigo Duterte should they disobey guidelines or cause disorder at rallies during the State of the Nation Address (SONA), National Capital Region Police Office director Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said Sunday.

Speaking to reporters, Metro Manila's top cop said representatives from both pro-administration and anti-administration rallyists have coordinated with the police in the run-up to Monday's annual address.

"Nakipagkasundo tayo sa kanila, pinagbigyan natin ang hilig nila, naglagay tayo ng guidelines, pinagbigyan lahat," said Eleazar.

"Kapag hindi sila sumunod doon, siguro naman we have reason para gawin ang aksiyon namin," he added.

Should there be any cases of "abuse," Eleazar said it would not start from the police.

"Pinagbigay natin lahat, so we will be justified kung i-disperse namin 'yan," he said.

Eleazar also inspected on Sunday the area of the Batasang Pambansa Complex to see police preparations for SONA protests.

Eleazar said separate spaces 2 kilometers apart have been alloted for both supporters and protesters to prevent confrontations. 

Protesters would be placed along Commonwealth Avenue near St. Peter's Church, a traditional SONA protest staging point. 

The pro-Duterte rallyists, meanwhile, were assigned to a portion of the IBP Road facing Sinagtala St., closer to the Batasan Pambansa. This was also where the anti-Duterte rally was held in 2016 during his first SONA. 

"Kung may manggulo diyan among their ranks, kung sila-sila rin, na ayaw natin mangyari, maiiwasan na iyon dahil ang commitment nga nila, sila mismo ang magpo-police ng kanilang mga hanay dahil kilala naman nila kung sino ang lalahok," said Eleazar.

"Kung mayroon silang hindi kilala, i-check nila iyon at ipagbigay alam nila sa amin," he said.

Around 8,000 police from Quezon City will be deployed to guard SONA-related events, with 4,000 cops from other areas, said Eleazar.

The police will continue to conduct anti-criminality patrols elsewhere.

Police have yet to receive any intelligence report of any possible untoward incident, according to Eleazar.