MANILA, Philippines – Police will be filing charges against persons who “abducted and mauled” undercover police officers tasked to watch groups holding protests during President Benigno Aquino III’s last State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Earlier Monday, July 27, protesters seized two police intelligence officers for infiltrating their ranks and “spying.”
PNP chief Director General Ricardo Marquez defended the two, telling reporters in a chance interview that the policemen were only doing their jobs.
Despite the early scuffle between police and protesters on Monday, Marquez assured the public that the police will be exercising “maximum tolerance.”
He also called on groups protesting along Commonwealth Avenue to do the same.
“Ang mga police natin ay maximum tolerance, sana ganoon din sila.’ Pag napahayag na nila yng mga saloobin nila and we have given them this space to air their grievances, sana hanggang doon nalang wala na yung mga hakbang na magdudulot ng kaguluhan,” Maquez said.
(Our police officers have maximum tolerance, I hope the protesters will have the same attitude. We have given them this space to air their grievances and the time to say what is on their minds, I hope that they don’t go further and take steps that would lead to violence.)
The two intelligence officers were later sent back to the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) headquarters after they were released by protesters.
Some 6,000 cops, mostly from the QCPD, have been deployed to secure the Batasang Pambansa and the areas surrounding it for Aquino’s last SONA. The 6,000 are divided into 14 Special Sub-Task Groups stations in different areas from Commonwealth to IBP road.
Police have pegged the current number of protesters to 1,000 but are expecting more to come before Aquino’s speech.
Marquez has also directed tactical ground commanders to compose a negotiating panel should leaders from the group of protesters request a dialogue with authorities.
“Our tactical commanders on the ground already know how to deal with these types of situations. Nag-conduct sila ng mga rehearsal and even mga competition. I’m very confident na yung mga commanders na nandyan already know the procedures,” he added.
(They have already rehearsed for these situations and even had competitions. I’m very confident that the commanders stationed here already know the procedures.)
Concrete barriers lined with barbed wires, as well as several container vans have been placed in the perimeter near Ever Gotestco Mall up to Sandiganbayan. Protesters slammed the police for “overkill” in their SONA preparations but Marquez said these were set up to avoid violent confrontations.
“Inilagay namin yang mga yang mga structure na yan para hindi magkaroon ng face-to-face engagement, para maiwasan ang mga ganoong pangyayari,” Marquez said.
(We put these structures to avoid face-to-face engagements, to avoid violent confrontations.)
Last year’s SONA saw protesters bring down concrete barricades reinforced with metal wires. They were later stopped by cops by spraying them with water mixed with red dye. – Vincent Bascos/Rappler.com