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PNP holds simulation exercise in anticipation of SONA protests

Members of the Manila Police District undergo civil disturbance management training at the Quirino Grandstand yesterday ahead of President Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address on July 24. The STAR / Miguel De Guzman

MANILA, Philippines —  Two weeks ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address, the Philippine National Police conducted a simulation exercise for anticipated protests during the national event.

The police force held the simulation exercise at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila on Saturday. They tried to train for unmanageable scenarios such as protesters attacking police and throwing protest paraphernalia at them.

National Capital Region Police Office chief Oscar Albayalde said protesters will be allowed to enter up to the South Gate of Batasan Complex. In past SONAs, protesters were blocked on Commonwealth Avenue.

Albayalde said the police officers will not use their guns or even batons to disperse violent protesters but they will move using their riot shields to control and disperse them.

"Para ipakita sa kanila na talagang hindi naman ang pulis natin ang nangunguna doon sa mga violence na sinasabi,” Albayalde said in a televised interview.

The NCRPO chief also warned the protesters  of their limits.

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"Kung ayaw nilang pasaway, doon siguro magkaka-resistance ng kaunti,” Albayalde said.

Protests by activist groups like the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan have been common during SONAs of past administrations but the popular president has National Democratic Front of the Philippines nominees in his Cabinet and Bayan-affiliated party-list lawmakers are part of the House majority bloc. 

There will be about 6,000 police officers designated to secure Duterte’s SONA. That’s 2,000 more than the number of cops assigned last year.

Albayalde also said there is no security threat reported for the president’s SONA. 

The PNP will conduct various formations such as umbrella, single wedge, arrow, and box in handling attacks of militants, as well as the protection of VIPs and themselves. 

Duterte’s second SONA will be held on July 24. A no-fly zone, which includes drones, will be in effect during the SONA. —Rosette Adel

RELATED: NCRPO readies security for Duterte’s SONA

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