Philippine National Police chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde enjoins all sectors to cooperate with the police to ensure a safe and peaceful Monday as the nation awaits the fourth State of the Nation Address of President Duterte.
Here is the full text of Albayalde’s statement:
Since Saturday, July 20, I have placed the entire PNP on Full Alert status to ensure the availability of security forces to perform law enforcement and public safety duties as the President of the Republic of the Philipines delivers the State of the Nation Address at the opening of the 18th Congress.
To ensure that everyone will enjoy the right to freely and peacefully appreciate the significance of this occasion, the entire PNP is on full alert to address any situation that will require police action.
I am confident that with all our preparations, including the series of dialogues and coordination with leaders and organizers of participating groups in the projected mass actions today, the 2018 SONA will be peaceful, orderly and uneventful.
The annual SONA is an important national event that every Filipino must look up to with enthusiasm and optimism to witness the President of the Republic of the Philippines deliver his annual review of achievements, statement of the present situation and announcement of future prospects before the joint houses of Congress.
A sizable contingent of PNP personnel will be deployed in different locations as the need arises to undertake Civil Disturbance Management (CDM) operations in the venues of mass actions and convergence points.
Guided by President Duterte’s specific instructions to allow free expression and public assembly, and prevent violent confrontation between security forces and rallyists, the general guidance to CDM units is to observe maximum tolerance at all times, even when provoked.
We respect the right of the participants to free expression and assembly. We will uphold as well the right of non-participants to unhampered access to our streets and thoroughfares.
We will keep our lines of communication open with leaders and organizers of these public assemblies and mass action for effective coordination of their movement.
Let me remind again that the freedom of expression is not absolute, it is limited within the bounds of law. Everyone is expected to exercise discretion on what would constitute a violation of law. And we presume anyone exercising this right knows the responsibilities.
Nonetheles, the orders of the president are very clear: 1) CDM personnel will not carry firearms, but will be equipped only with the standard protective gear and non-lethal instruments, 2) We will give appropriate space for protesters to hold the public assemblies and even pull back within reasonable limits, and 3) we will recover our ground decisively when we find ourselves pushed against the wall.
Watch the President’s SoNA here: https://www.youtube.com/embed/tNo6YbD5HkU