IN PHOTOS: Where police stayed during the ASEAN Summit
The "augmentation cops" were in the country's capital as early as November 8 to help its police force in ensuring protection for heads of states and other delegates attending the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.
The cops were positioned inside and around the venues of the ASEAN Summit and Related Summits, on guard as soon as the sun rose and well after the sun had gone down. In between, many of them stayed in emptied gymnasiums, and some, at the back of a warehouse.
Rappler took a look at the place most cops called home during the ASEAN Summit – the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, where around 1,500 cops stayed.
Many slept on futons that covered the sports complex's entire basketball court, while others got their shut-eye on hammocks tied between railings and chairs, or between entrance doors designed to separate crowds who watch games. For ventilation, they had electric fans lent to them by Manila police.
There were over a thousand cops staying in the stadium: 600 with Baltazar from Ilocos and 400 from Cagayan Valley. Around 400 others from Ilocos slept in the grandstand.
"'Yung sitwasyon dito lalo na't galing kaming probinsya, siguro merong kaunting diperensya sa pagtira, pero so far nakaka-cope naman 'yung mga tao natin," Baltazar told Rappler early Tuesday morning, November 14.
(The situation here, especially since most of us are from the provinces, there's a difference in the living conditions, but so far we have coped well.)
The biggest challenge for the cops? Sharing only about 25 bathrooms.
Because there were too few bathrooms, it meant the police needed to strategize – something they're not strangers to. "Sanay na sila diyan (They're used to it)," Baltazar said.
According to him, some took showers at night so they wouldn't have to in the morning, while some would skip their turn so others would be able to use the washrooms.
"Sabay-sabay silang gigising, sabay-sabay silang naliligo? Hindi talagang mangyayaring, hindi talaga posible 'yun kasi limited ang facilities natin," Baltazar said.
(All of them waking up at once and taking a bath? That really won't happen. It's not possible, given our facilities.)
According to Baltazar, they didn't mind living in the sports complex. After all, he said, they were well-compensated through the food.
They had a caterer providing meals 3 times a day, so they didn't have to spend on food. Their transportation was also paid for.
The only problem, Baltazar said, was that the food delivery would sometimes get delayed due to Metro Manila's notorious traffic.
"Ang reason naman nila eh siyempre 'yung traffic so acceptable naman 'yun, pero hindi mahuhuli dahil puwede namang agahan talaga kung traffic talaga," he told Rappler on Monday, November 13.
(Their reason is that they encounter heavy traffic, but they can adjust by leaving earlier.)
Other than the limited bathrooms and the sporadically late meals, it's all work and duty for the cops at the sports complex.
By 5 am, Baltazar's men would fall in line on the field outside the stadium for their headcount.
For the ASEAN Summit, the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) expected 900 from the region, the most compared to others. They brought 1,092 to Manila.
Aside from the contingent present at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, the NCRPO estimates that there were also 500 cops from Calabarzon, 500 from Bicol, and 200 from the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).
After the headcount, they would pick up their shields and batons, ready to guard summit venues.
Doing the routine for days, Baltazar said they took pleasure in protecting the world leaders and fellow Filipinos. For them, it was part of their duty to the nation.
"Maaayos talaga 'yung ASEAN na 'to, kailangan magsakripisyo...Para sa atin naman 'yan kung anong pinag-uusapan, para sa bayan natin," Baltazar said. (We really need to sacrifice for ASEAN...Whatever the leaders talk about, it is for our nation.)
In these changing times, courage and clarity become even more important.
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