A STRETCH of the 18-lane Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City has become a study in contrast on the day President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo delivers her State of the Nation Address (SONA) before a joint session of Congress at the Batasang Pambansa, home of the House of Representatives.

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The widened highway toward the Batasan was closed to traffic, with garbage trucks, tow trucks, container vans and firetrucks blocking protesters from getting near the venue of the President’s SONA.

The other side of the road was heavy in traffic, with vehicles moving toward Batasan counter-flowing with those bound for Philcoa-Quezon Memorial Circle.

Thousands of policemen, most of them belonging to the anti-riot and crowd control squads, put up at least four barricades on the nine-lane stretch of the highway from Feria Street up to the IBP Road near the Sandiganbayan building.

While some policemen carried only truncheons and metal shields, others were in full-battle gear, clutching powerful firearms. Firetrucks were stationed in strategic positions, ready to train their hoses on protesting activists. The policemen stood behind concrete barriers and barbed wires.

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