Police will jam mobile phone signals in parts of Quezon City as a security precaution during President Rodrigo Duterte’s sixth and last State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, Metro Manila police chief Maj. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr. said Sunday.
“There will be specific areas where there will be no signal because we have a jammer,” Danao said in Filipino on Dobol B TV.
Anti-government protests will only be allowed until St. Peter’s Memorial Chapels on Commonwealth Avenue near Tandang Sora, to prevent a buildup of traffic and to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infections, Danao said.
Danao did not say where pro-Duterte rallies could be held.
He also advised motorists to take alternate routes in Quezon City because of the traffic and rerouting for the SONA.
By 6 a.m. Monday, Commonwealth Avenue northbound will be closed to private vehicles, which will be rerouted.
Danao said there would be extensive security and urged the public to stay at home if they have no important business outside to prevent the further transmission of COVID-19.
“We have not monitored any threat ahead but we are continuously coordinating with our member-agencies. Let me reiterate my plea to everyone to think of your safety as it is also our ultimate concern. We ask you to choose to stay safe at home with your family. Otherwise, please cooperate, be vigilant and alert during the event. Let us work together to make the last SONA of our President a safe and peaceful one,” Danao said.
Danao said he expected militant groups to stage mass actions despite the pandemic.
“Therefore, it is necessary for the police force to intensify public safety and security operations not only to prevent the occurrence of violent incidents but also to ensure strict adherence to the health and safety protocols,” he said.
He said 9,919 Metro Manila police personnel and 5,255 composite support units will be deployed in Welcome Rotonda, UP Diliman, Tandang Sora, and Ever-Gotestco to IBP Road to ensure a peaceful SONA.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Guillermo EleazarEleazar called on groups that are planning to stage rallies to hold mass actions peacefully.
He said as the PNP personnel observe maximum tolerance, groups conducting mass protests should also police their ranks and ensure that they respect the mandate of policemen to serve and protect.
Eleazar directed police personnel to keep their tempers in check and remain professional, strictly observing maximum tolerance in dealing with groups staging mass actions.
In the face of the COVID-19 Delta variant threat, Eleazar asked groups to seriously consider holding virtual activities in lieu of physical mass actions.
Eeleazar earlier suspended all permits to carry firearms outside of residence from July 21 to 28 in the National Capital Region as part of security preparations for Duterte’s final SONA.
He also directed all police district directors to strengthen anti-criminality measures and police visibility operations all over Metro Manila.
“As usual, our police will exercise maximum tolerance but at the same time, we are appealing to the militant groups to do their share and police their ranks to ensure a peaceful and orderly SONA. Of course, our police are always alert and would not hesitate to use legal force if the protesters become unruly,” Eleazar said.
Earlier, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte met with police and militant groups to discuss the need to maintain health protocols during activities surrounding the SONA.
“We have an existing health crisis made more volatile by the presence of the highly infectious Delta variant in Metro Manila. It is everyone’s civic duty to adhere to minimum health standards and limited mobility,” Belmonte said.
The mayor approved the holding of the rallies provided that the names and contact details of all rally participants be submitted to the City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit for contact tracing should any individual test positive, and that a plan of their health protocols be submitted for approval.
“We were assured by the rally organizers that they would closely monitor their ranks and we consented, subject to strict adherence to health protocols,” she said.
Rally organizers also agreed to abide by the city’s ordinances and do away with any program along Commonwealth Avenue to avoid disrupting the flow of traffic, she said.
A day before the President’s last SONA, members of a militant group on Sunday unfurled “Goodbye, Duterte” banners in Quezon City.
A giant “Goodbye, Duterte” banner now hangs at the overpass connecting the University of the Philippines, Commission on Human Rights and UP-Ayala Technohub on Commonwealth Avenue.
The banner hanging is part of the build-up SONA activities of the Movement against the Anti-Terrorism Act.
On SONA day, MATA member organizations and the public are called to a “despedida” rally starting at noon at the CHR grounds.
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