By Jil Danielle M. Caro

THE PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) yesterday appealed to protesters that will hold rallies during the President’s 2nd State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 24 “not to be violent” as it vowed a maximum tolerance policy from unarmed officers who will be deployed.

Chief Supt. Oscar D. Albayalde, head of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), said that they have conducted a series of dialogues with “militant” groups on security measures for the SONA, with up to 15,000 protesters expected to gather outside the Batasan Pambansa Complex.

“We are already prepared for the upcoming 2nd SONA of the President. We have conducted dialogues already with the different stakeholders — our militant brothers, and of course with the barangay officials that will be affected in Batasan,” Mr. Albayalde said in a press conference.

“We have agreed that we would let the protesters assemble at the same position where they had assembled last year… Actually we will let them go nearer, around 15 to 20 meters at the south gate,” he added.

The NCRPO chief also said the front line police officers will not be carrying guns batons, nor shields and that there will be “no container vans, no barbed wires, no barricades” to block the rallyists.

“We request our protesters, for them to be peaceful also… We act as civilized people. They can protest without hurting anyone… They can shout, we will tolerate them. But for them to hurt? We cannot tolerate that or if they will destruct property,” he said.

On security measures, Mr. Albayalde said the PNP is “100% ready” to deploy 6,300 uniformed personnel, more than last year’s 4,000 because there is an increase in areas that have to be monitored.

“The numbers of areas needed to be monitored increased. Included [in the 6,300] are the augmentation: from rescue, fire, BJMP (Bureau of Jail Management and Penology), those who will maintain peace and order without uniform.”

He also explained that last year, when President Rodrigo R. Duterte was fresh from winning the May elections, ”there was no issue, no threat.”

“Now there is an issue. They have issue with martial law, and many others,” he added.

A “skeletal deployment” will start this weekend, with full deployment of personnel by early morning of July 24.

Classes in all levels in Quezon City schools have been suspend on Monday by Mayor Herbert M. Bautista.