By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan and Priam Nepomuceno

PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. (PNA photo by Benjamin Pulta)

MANILA – The country’s top cop on Monday reminded anew police officers tasked to secure President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s second State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the House of Representatives to exercise maximum tolerance on protesters.

“All Filipinos are watching us today and on our part, we will show what police officers are made of. We are professionals and we exercise in all our dealings the proper security measures for the President, for the rallyists and of course for Filipinos who exercise their rights,” PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. told reporters after inspecting police formations along Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City.

Acorda also maintained that human rights must be observed while securing the proceedings.

“We talked with our personnel and we emphasized the observance of human rights and maximum tolerance,” he added.

The PNP chief also emphasized that pro-administration and anti-Marcos demonstrators will hold separate programs to prevent possible misunderstandings that could trigger unnecessary confrontations.

The Quezon City government has designated locations where pro and anti-government protesters would hold their protest actions.

Acorda also appealed to protesters to stick to the conditions of the permits given to them and avoid converging in areas where they are not supposed to gather.

“Regardless of affiliation, whether pro or anti and whatsoever, our guidelines include maximum tolerance and we appeal to them to stay in their designated areas,” the PNP chief said.

The PNP has deployed more than 20,000 policemen who were augmented by personnel from various government agencies that include the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, the military, the Bureau of Fire Protection and local government units.

As of 2 p.m., the Quezon City Police District said around 5,500 rallyists joined the anti-SONA protest action along Commonwealth Avenue.

Meanwhile, Marcos supporters held their own program near the Commission on Audit compound.

Acorda also said events related to SONA are relatively peaceful so far with no untoward incidents.

The PNP has deployed over 22,000 policemen and force multipliers to ensure peace and order during SONA.

Support for PBBM

Marlon Mendoza, One Movement chairperson, expressed confidence that the Marcos administration is right on track and very capable of realizing its goals.

Sa amin paniniwala hindi nagbabago. Kung 100 percent kami buong-buo kaming sumusuporta sa kanya noon, hanggang ngayon ay mataas pa rin ang rating dahil yun pa rin ang paniniwala at umaasa kami na makakamit namin yung tagumpay na hinahangad niya sa sambayanang Pilipino kaya ang grado na binigay ko talaga ay 99.9 percent (Our beliefs have not change. We supported him 100 percent before and up to now, his rating is still high because we believe in him and we are confident that he would be able to deliver his promises to the Filipino people so we are giving him a grade of 99.99 percent),” he added.

Joseph Pulilan, chairman of Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, urged anti-Marcos protesters to be more patient as the President has been in office for only one year now.

Meanwhile, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Brig. Gen. Jose Melencio Nartatez Jr. said they will not use unnecessary force against the protesters but will arrest persons who would assault the police.

Siyempre kapag ikaw pinalo, masasaktan ka so ‘wag ka na lang mamalo. Handa naman mga pulis, they have necessary protective gear kapag nasaktan sila. Mga pulis ‘yan, alam nila ang gagawin and they will effect some arrest,” he added.

Nartatez also said they will also enforce the Clean Air Act should protesters burn effigies.

Kung magsunog sila, on their own ‘yun pero kung may makitaan kami and ma-document (If they burn, it’s their own doing but if we see something and we are able to document it), they will face penalties for that. We’re implementing our Clean Air Act,” the NCRPO chief said.

Nartatez inspected several police posts along Commonwealth Avenue including the one stationed at the Luzon flyover where 1,000 police personnel are deployed.

Progressive groups started their protest march near the Philippine Coconut Authority and ended along Tandang Sora near the Commission on Human Rights, where they conducted other demonstrations and held a program.

Security plans for this year’s SONA included strategic personnel deployments, civil disturbance management, anti-criminality intervention, counter-terrorism, traffic management and emergency response teams.

The NCRPO earlier deployed two Skydio drones, along with the mobile command center bus, for a wide aerial view coverage.

These drones, NCRPO said, were used to effectively monitor the movement of people and vehicles and prevent untoward incidents.

A gun ban was also imposed in Metro Manila, Calabarzon and Central Luzon starting 12:01 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. on Monday. (with reports from Benjamin Pulta/PNA)