The Philippine National Police will deploy about 15,000 officers to secure President Rodrigo Duterte’s final State of the Nation Address on July 26.
In a statement, PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said the National Capital Region Police under Maj. Gen. Vicente Danao is preparing for the event at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.
Eleazar led the SONA security in 2016 and 2017 as Task Group Quezon Commander and in 2018 and 2019 as NCRPO director and head of the Security Task Force.
“We encourage these groups planning to conduct mass actions to coordinate their activities with the PNP. But it would be better if they conduct their activities virtually as this is safer for all those involved,” he said, adding that protesters must follow social distancing and other public health protocols to avoid turning the event into a COVID-19 superspreader.
The House of Representatives previously said between 150 to 200 guests may be allowed to personally witness the SONA but they must undergo COVID-19 tests.
Meanwhile, Eleazar attributed the country’s vastly improved peace and order situation to the intensified anti-criminality efforts and the relentless anti-drug campaign under President Duterte.
“Illegal drugs are the root of other crimes so when we intensified our campaign against this menace, our communities got safer and our countrymen more secure. It also allayed the fears of our countrymen of falling prey to criminals,” he said.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said the country’s crime volume went down to 193,103 in the first semester of the year from 292,589 during the second semester of 2016, the year when Duterte assumed the presidency.
“The government’s full support to the PNP’s modernization program has also enabled the police organization to procure assets to further boost our capability in our anti-criminality operations which is aimed at better serving and protecting the public,” Eleazar said.