6,300 police to be deployed to SONA

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 19) — The Metro Manila police is on "full alert status" for President Rodrigo Duterte's State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, as it continues to monitor any terrorist threats amid the fighting between the ISIS-inspired Maute group and government forces in Marawi.

National Capital Region Police Chief Supt. Oscar Albayalde said around 6,300 police will be deployed on July 24 to secure eight different areas in Batasang Pambansa.

This is significantly more than the 4,000-strong police forces deployed last year, during the President's first SONA. Last year's protest was generally peaceful, according to both police and rallyists. No extreme measures were used to disperse the protesters.

Even though the police has not monitored any terrorist threats in Metro Manila for Monday's event, Albayalde said  they are strictly monitoring crowded areas and checkpoints.

The police will also declare a no-fly zone within the six-kilometer radius from the House of Representatives.

Militant groups such as Bayan Muna, Migrante, and the National Union of Students of the Philippines, among others, will take to the streets to have what they call the "People's SONA." Albayalde said they are expecting around 15,000 people to attend the rally near the Batasan.

Although militants are hoping the police will observe maximum tolerance, Albayalde said they might be forced to arrest militants who will go overboard.

The crisis in Marawi has been going on for almost two months now. This also prompted the declaration of martial law in the whole Mindanao, which the President is eyeing to expand until the end of the year.

Alternate routes

Some 2,000 traffic enforcers will be deployed to ensure the flow of traffic along roads and major thoroughfares leading to the Batasang Pambansa.

The Metro Manila Development Authority on Friday advised those in the vicinity of the SONA to take the following alternate routes:

  1. From Commonwealth Avenue (west bound), take right at Fairlane, right at Dahlia Avenue, then left at Chestnut then straight to Sauyo Road to Mindanao Avenue to destination (vice versa).
  2. From SM Fairview or Robinsons Novaliches, take Quirino Highway, straight to Mindanao Avenue to destination.
  3. From Fairview or Mindanao Avenue, take right at Jordan Plains, straight to Quirino Highway to Mindanao Avenue to destination.