PNP ready with 6,000-strong force for Erap verdict

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — A 6,000-strong police and military force will be deployed in Quezon City and near Malacañang Palace once the Sandiganbayan hands down its verdict on the plunder case of former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada sometime next month.

At a press conference, National Capital Region Police Office head Reynaldo Varilla and his military counterpart Maj. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino said 4,000 police officers and 2,000 soldiers would form the civil disturbance unit.

Two companies of 120 crowd dispersal or anti-riot police officers would be stationed on roads leading to Malacañang and Don Chino Roces Bridge on Mendiola, adjoining C.M. Recto Avenue and Legarda Street.

Varilla said the government no longer considers Estrada a threat to national security for now.

“However, we are monitoring some of his leaders of any possible movement. Anyway, we are ready for any eventuality. We are prepared for the worst.”

He added that his office is coordinating with the Sandiganbayan to make sure that anti-riot police are in position when the graft court pronounces its decision.

Estrada vacated Malacañang in January 2001 during the so-called Edsa 2 due to mounting clamor of civil society and other sectors over corruption charges against him.

Varilla said he doubted the capability of Erap supporters to muster enough numbers to overtake police barricades, stressing that prior clearance was required in staging a public demonstration.

“No permit, no rally. We will implement Batas Pambansa 880.”