POLICE intelligence and human rights officers were deployed to ensure the security of various groups conducting protest actions in relation to the fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona) of President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday afternoon, July 22.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde said intelligence officers were tasked to detect any possible attempt to disrupt or sabotage the protest actions.
"This is not for surveillance on them (protesters). This is for their own safety. Remember, even these militant protesters do not personally know all those joining them," he said in an interview during his security inspection along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.
"So they should really understand why police intelligence operatives are deployed. This is for their own safety, for the safety of the community," Albayalde added.
Protesters, however, have been uneasy over the deployment of intelligence officers and have mauled one such officer in civilian clothes in the past.
Police have intensified security measures following the June 28, 2019 suicide bombing in a military camp in Indanan, Sulu last month which resulted in the killing of eight people including three soldiers.
"Our goal here is simple, a peaceful conduct of the protest actions so I hope that they (protesters) would cooperate and help us," said Albayalde.
Meanwhile, a total of 117 human rights affairs officers from the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) and Camp Crame were deployed in the rally area to ensure that policemen will observe the standard operating protocols in dealing with protesters.
Colonel Joel Usman, deputy chief of the Human Rights Affairs Office, said they were confident that the protest actions will be peaceful and orderly because of the coordination meetings between the police and militant leaders ahead of the Sona.
He said the deployment of HRAO officers were part of precautionary measures.
“This is part of our mandate to ensure that our PNP would observe the Police Operational Procedures in terms of respecting the human rights of the rallyists,” said Usman.
“Our presence is important because right there, we would be able to advise or correct our CDM (Civil Disturbance Management) personnel if we see that they are already violating the human rights of the protesters,” he added. (SunStar Philippines)