More police visibility, less military presence in SONA
- Alexis Romero () - July 25, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) disclosed yesterday that here will be more police visibility and less soldiers deployed in the metropolis today as President Aquino delivers his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Batasan Pambansa Complex in Quezon City.

AFP spokesman Commodore Miguel Rodriguez noted that securing the SONA is the primary role of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

He added that deploying numerous soldiers in the streets during the SONA would create an impression of instability.

“The more visible the policemen are in the metropolis, the better for us. The less visible soldiers are in metropolis, the better for us,” Rodriguez said in an interview with radio dzBB yesterday.

“We are used to seeing soldiers in the metropolis but visitors from other countries are not. If there are uniformed soldiers, the perception is there is instability,” he added.

Rodriguez said they have not raised their alert levels for the SONA.

“We did not (upgrade the alert status). It (providing security for the SONA) is part of the normal function of the armed forces,” he added.

AFP National Capital Region Command (NCRCOM) chief Maj. Gen. Tristan Kison said at least 700 soldiers would be deployed to support the police units.

“(Our alert status is) normal but we will support them (police). We have seven companies for civil disturbance management. There are 88 persons per unit so more or less 700 persons,” Kison said.

Kison said another company of soldiers was placed on standby for possible deployment. He said they expect the usual rallies from various groups but these are not expected to sow serious disorder.

NCRCOM’s police counterpart, the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), has been placed on full alert status in preparation for the SONA.

A full alert means all police personnel are on standby. It also entails the cancellation of all leaves and rest and recreation of policemen.

The 7,000 NCRPO policemen to be deployed during the SONA would be supported by about 1,800 policemen from Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, and Bicol.

AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Oban Jr. said they do not expect any threat that could disrupt today’s SONA.

“There is no specific threat,” Oban told reporters over the weekend.

Early this month, Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Maj. Gen. Romulo Bambao said the threat level in Metro Manila remains the same despite the upcoming SONA.

He said armed groups like the New People’s Army and the Abu Sayyaf continue to pose threat but not within alarming levels.

“I would always say that we consider it (presence of armed groups) always as a threat but the level of threat is not really alarming. The threat level of terrorism in Manila remains the same,” Bambao said.                      – With Non Alquitran

ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES ARMY AND THE ABU SAYYAF BATASAN PAMBANSA COMPLEX CAGAYAN VALLEY CENTRAL LUZON COMMODORE MIGUEL RODRIGUEZ EDUARDO OBAN JR. INTELLIGENCE SERVICE OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES KISON SONA
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