No protesters will be allowed along Commonwealth Avenue when President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief, Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas, said on Friday.
Sinas said mass gatherings are not allowed for the occasion based on new guidelines from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Resolution No. 57.
“Ang exception po nito ay yung authorized na (The only exception to this are those authorized with) less than 10 personnel only,” Sinas said in a press briefing.
Meanwhile, Sinas said they are in talks with the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman regarding the conduct of rallies.
“Kung doon talaga, bawal (at Commonwealth). Doon sa UP, kasi sa UP may sarili silang set-up doon (Along Commonwealth Avenue, it is prohibited. In UP, they have their own set-up), we’ll just be negotiating (with the) administration. The guidance of PNP (Philippine National Police) chief, Gen. Archie Gamboa is as long as you don’t violate and don’t get out of UP compound, it is okay,” he told reporters.
Sinas announced that about 7,500 policemen, soldiers, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) personnel will be deployed for the occasion.
He warned that the violators of DILG’s guidelines against mass gatherings will be arrested.
Sinas said DILG’s memorandum states that “The Inter-Agency Task Force strongly reiterates that mass gatherings, such as, but not limited to movie screenings, sporting events, and other entertainment activities, community assemblies, and non-essential work gatherings, are prohibited subject only to very limited exceptions stated in Section 4, Paragraph 12 of the Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines, as amended.”
Sinas said the police would talk again to concerned stakeholders about the possible changes regarding protest actions during SONA.
Duterte delivered his past four SONAs at the Session Hall of the House of Representatives at the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, however, said Duterte might deliver his SONA at the Malacañan Palace in Manila, in case one of those invited to attend the annual event at the Batasang Pambansa tests positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
The SONA is delivered by the President of the Philippines every year to report the state of the country, unveil the government’s agenda for the coming year, and may also propose to Congress certain legislative measures. (PNA)