MANILA, Philippines – Police officials yesterday assured militants that maximum tolerance will be exercised during Monday’s State of the Nation Address at the Batasan Complex in Quezon City.
In a meeting with representatives of militant groups, Director Reynaldo Varilla, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office, also urged the organizers of protest actions to keep an eye on their ranks to avoid infiltration from unruly elements.
“The police will be there as your protectors and not your aggressors,” Varilla assured the leaders.
The dialogue was held at the Sulo Hotel yesterday morning. In attendance were Rusty Delizo, Linggoy Alcuaz, Rep. Etta Rosales, Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel from Akbayan, and Renato Reyes of Bayan.
Supt. Rhodel Sermonia, NCRPO spokesperson, said the regional director meant to thresh out the concern and issues of the militant leaders for Monday’s protest rallies at the Batasan Complex.
The Quezon City Police District is set to deploy 3,000 of its operatives in the Batasan area for the Sona.
“As much as possible, we would protect those holding their protests in the area because the police force is not only meant to serve those in power,” QCPD director Senior Supt. Magtanggol Gatdula told the Inquirer. He said the operatives, previously assigned to QCPD’s stations and precincts, would be part of a civil disturbance management group.
“My men would have no guns with them. We want everyone to know that we are not the enemy here,” Gatdula stressed.
The police chief said he had talked with various leaders of militant groups who assured him that they would hold their protests along the stretch of Commonwealth Avenue—from Ever Gotesco Commonwealth mall to the area before St. Peter’s Church.