PNP units for SONA will be 'sufficient in number'

MANILA, Philippines – The police units that will be deployed to handle safety and order during President Benigno Aquino III’s last State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 27, “will be sufficient in number”.

This was the assurance given by Chief Superintendent Joel Pagdilao, director of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD), on Friday, July 24.

Pagdilao said he could not reveal the exact number of policemen for security reasons. During Aquino’s SONA in 2014, at least 10,000 police personnel were deployed to provide security in the areas surrounding the Batasang Pambansa complex in Quezon City. 

This year poses twin challenges as the Iglesia ni Cristo, whose 101st anniversary coincides with the SONA, displayed cracks in the church leadership, with the brother of no less than the executive minister hurling accusations of corruption against some church members.

MMDA personnel and other support units will be on their posts before 6 am on Monday as they expect the morning rush of vehicles to cause heavy traffic along Commonwealth Avenue.

Also last year, police had to spray colored water against protesters who were able to topple barricades set up to keep them a safe distance from the SONA venue.

Manalo's appeal for help

As an added security measure, Pagdilao said he ordered police officers to stay within the area to ensure the safety of the families inside the compound in Tandang Sora where Angel Manalo, the younger brother of Eduardo, the executive minister, has holed up.

The police chief also said that he had instructed his men to monitor  and check everyone who goes in and out of the compound for security purposes.

The elder Manalo expelled his brother and his own mother Tenny after the two of them appealed for help in a YouTube video because their lives are in danger.

The main temple of the Iglesia is right along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City enroute to the Batasang Pambansa complex.

Walkthrough

Quezon City police conducted a “walkthrough” on Friday, July 24, and drove around the Batasang Pambansa complex to familiarize themselves with the areas leading to the venue.

A convoy of patrol units, ambulance and motorcycle escorts passed through Commonwealth Avenue and IBP road to survey the streets that will be affected by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) traffic scheme on Monday, July 27.

“As early as Saturday, may early skeletal deployment na tayo for the traffic in preparation for SONA,” Pagdilao said. (As early as Saturday, we will have an early skeletal deployment in preparation for the traffic during the SONA.)

Just like the walkthrough, the early skeletal deployment of policemen on Saturday, July 25, will help familiarize their units with the areas surrounding the Batasang Pambansa complex.

According to MMDA’s traffic rerouting scheme, the northbound stretch of Commonwealth Avenue from Ever Gotesco to St Peter Church will be closed to traffic by 3 am on Monday.

A zipper lane will be opened at the southbound lane of Congressional Avenue from Jocfer Building to Commission on Audit for northbound vehicles. –Rappler.com