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Police say protesters’ bags target of scrutiny if intel says they have weapons

MANILA, Philippines—Police will check the contents of bags and closely inspect personal belongings of protesters near Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City during President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday if they receive information the protesters were carrying prohibited items, according to the head of the National Capital Region police.

Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar told Inquirer.net that police won’t hesitate to scour the inside of bags carried by protesters if “there is compelling reason to do that” and “if we have reason to believe” information that protesters could be carrying weapons to disrupt the Sona. “We can check those,” Eleazar said, referring to protesters’ belongings.

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Militant groups earlier criticized Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde’s statement that police will “most probably” conduct random inspections of bags of protesters during Duterte’s fourth Sona on Monday as a violation of the right to privacy.

Albayalde said bag scrutiny was an additional security measure prompted by the suicide terror attack on a military camp in Indanan, Sulu on June 28 that killed seven people and wounded 22.

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READ: PNP ‘likely’ to inspect belongings of protesters on day of Sona

Eleazar said it would be neglect of duty if police looked the other way and did not inspect protesters’ bags even after receiving information that the protesters were carrying weapons or other prohibited items, like drugs.

He also urged protesters to “police their own ranks” to prevent anyone from provoking violence.

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“It’s also for their own protection,” Eleazar said./tsb

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