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Contingency measures taken to safeguard Philippine president's speech at Congress
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07:56, July 23, 2007

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The Philippine police said on Sunday its National Capital Region Office has adopted contingency measures to ensure a peaceful delivery of the yearly State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

National capital police spokesman Superintendent Rodel Sermonia said at least 5,000 policemen and policewomen from the different police districts in the Metro Manila, who have been put on alert for days, are being deployed to secure the SONA, which also marks the opening of the 14th Congress elected in the mid-term elections in May.

"The Task Kapayapaan is readying 5,000 policemen in the National Capital Region and this would be composed of different districts. We also have augmentation troops coming from regional police offices," said Sermonia in reference to the task force in charge of ensuring security during the event.

Sermonia said police would be backed by forces from the military's National Capital Region Command, a unit based in Metro Manila to secure the seat of government.

He said the police force has not received any information about plans to sabotage the SONA.

"So far we have not received any particular intelligence reports pertaining to bomb threat and other related threat coming from these criminal elements," he said, apparently in reference to terrorists who could stage bomb attack on such occasions.

Some left-wing militant groups said they would also stage protests during the speech on Monday.

Four people were killed in a blast in a public market in Joso, Sulu in southern Philippines on Saturday.

Moreover, tension is mounting in southern Mindanao region over the killing of 14 government soldiers earlier this month in Basilan by members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has rejected an ultimatum by the military to surrender suspects in the attack on government troops.

Source: Xinhua

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