SONA protests peaceful, manageable: NCRPO

MANILA — Protesters during President Rodrigo Duterte’s third State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday remained peaceful and manageable despite an increase in their number compared to previous years.

The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) said anti-government protesters peaked around 15,000 and converged in front of a stage along Commonwealth Avenue, near Ever Gotesco Mall in Quezon City around 4:30 p.m.

The crowd then thinned out to around 8,000 half an hour later, police said.

On the other hand, pro-government protesters, who also gathered peacefully and orderly at the nearby IBP road, numbered around 7,000.

NCRPO director Chief Supt. Guillermo Eleazar, in a chance interview with reporters, reiterated that talks held by civil disturbance management officials including the Commission on Human Rights with leaders of protesting groups helped ensure peaceful demonstrations.

“Maganda yung pakikipag-ugnayang ginawa sa lahat ng stakeholders pati na rin sa mga iba’t-ibang leaders na lalahok sa programa ngayong SONA. And we are expecting na dahil we had a talk at nagkaroon kami ng agreement (na) yung mga guidelines na napagusapan namin ay susundin ng both sides (We had a good arrangement with all the stakeholders and leaders who took part in the program this SONA. And we are expecting that because we had a good talk and because we had an agreement that the guidelines we came up with would be followed by both sides),” Eleazar told reporters.

The NCRPO chief added that a number of motorists actually heeded the PNP’s call to avoid the affected areas, noting that this helped in making the traffic situation more manageable than last year’s SONA. Benjamin Pulta/PNA –