ILIGAN CITY: A singing band of soldiers and police officers held a concert at Cagayan de Oro City’s Freedom Kiosk hours before President Rodrigo Duterte was expected to deliver his State of the Nation Address (SONA) Monday afternoon.
Lt. Col. Mardy Hortillosa, information officer of Police Regional Office-10, said the “peace concert” featuring the live bands of the regional police and the Army’s 4th Infantry Division aims to counter any protest-rally of militant groups against the President’s SONA.
“We are having this kind of peace concert every time there is a national event or commemoration like SONA, Labor Day, Independence Day, and the like. We are expecting groups to arrive. Our group is here to answer issues they will raise,” Hortillosa said.
At the “peace concert” that started late Monday morning, Hortillosa said soldiers and police officers were also expected to engage anti-SONA protesters in a constructive manner.
“The problem of the government before, it just disregarded the issues raised during protest rallies. No one bothers to answer. This time, we make sure the government is here to interact with them,” Hortillosa said, referring to the protesters.
He said the Philippine National Police will exercise maximum tolerance in dealing with the protesters, although a dispersal team had been deployed should the rally become disorderly.
Hortillosa said they hope “it will not come to a point” in which the authorities would be forced to disperse protesters, adding the police and the military will “respect their rights to peaceably assemble to air grievances”.
However, the police official urged rallyists not to bring children and senior citizens in keeping with the health protocols of the coronavirus disease pandemic.