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22K security forces needed for SONA
THE deployment of 22,000 security forces at the first State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is needed to protect both guests and rallyists, the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) said Friday.
NCRPO spokesperson Lt. Col. Jenny Tecson defended the 22,104-strong security contingent from criticism, saying the peacekeeping troops would stop lawless groups that will attempt to disrupt the SONA and endanger public safety.
“The public needs our state forces to protect everyone at the SONA and thousands of people who are expected to stage events along Batasan Road,” she said.
“We also want to protect rallyists from various elements who may take advantage while they are holding programs,” the NCRPO spokesperson added.
Tecson also explained that the peacekeeping forces were not limited to the SONA site, but would also be deployed to border control points in the metro. Of these, 17,144 officers will come from the NCRPO; 1,986 from police support units; and 2,974 from other agencies and volunteer groups.
These include the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Coast Guard, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, and Bureau of Fire Protection.
Standby forces are needed for anti-crime operations during the event, Tecson said.
“We don’t want criminal groups in other areas to prosper while we are focusing on the SONA,” she said.
The SONA is one of the greatest security challenges of any government since the event convenes the highest officials of the land – especially the president, vice president, and lawmakers – in one venue.
Over 1,300 guests are expected to attend the President’s SONA at the Batasang Pambansa, including 300 Congress members, 24 senators, and members of the diplomatic corps. It will be the first time that Congress will be allowed at full capacity since the coronavirus pandemic struck the country in 2019. Anchit Masangcay