PNP exec apologizes but denies holding birthday party despite quarantine rules
Gamboa said he would not reprimand National Capital Region Police Office director Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas, who celebrated his birthday on May 8 with his troops at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.
Freeman Photo
PNP exec apologizes but denies holding birthday party despite quarantine rules
Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - May 13, 2020 - 3:15pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 6:16 p.m.) — Police Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas, chief of the Metro Manila police office, issued an apology Wednesday afternoon over a birthday party whose specifics he at the same time denied actually happened. 

Calls for his arrest resounded Wednesday morning once news of his celebration broke, at which point Sinas was defended by PNP higher-ups and even Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano. 

Both Police Brig. Gen Archie Gamboa, PNP chief, and President Rodrigo Duterte have affirmed that under enhanced community quarantine rules, mass gatherings are prohibited. 

"Some of the pictures circulating in the social media were edited and grabbed from old posts. The pictures may depict itself however it does not define the totality of what really had happened," he said.

According to Police Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, PNP spokesperson, the Internal Affairs Service of the national police has already been ordered to investigate the circumstances behind the celebration.

"Nevertheless, I apologize for what transpired during my birthday that caused anxiety to the public. It was never my intention to disobey any existing protocols relative to the implementation of Enhanced Community Quarantine," Sinas added in his statement. 

Accountability sought

A litany of militant peasant and rights organizations, including Karapatan and Anakpawis, voiced their outrage on social media that same day calling for the arrest of Sinas. 

In a statement, former lawmaker Ariel Casilao said: “So P in PNP now stands for ‘pasaway,’ and they had the gall to insult the people who are subjected by the lockdown. They even killed one to sow a chilling effect for the people to follow the rule, and then this, right in our very eyes. We demand Sinas and all those present to be held accountable for violating the rule against mass gathering and on physical distancing."

Although the original Facebook post has been taken down, the 'Extraordinary Birthday Celebration Of RD NCRPO' is listed among the 'accomplishments' of the National Capital Region Police Office on their official website under May 8, 2020. 

 

 

“PNP Chief Archie Gamboa is at a loss if he thinks he can cover up for Sinas, when he is actually liable for command responsibility. He certainly failed to make sure his subordinates follow the rule against mass gatherings and on physical distancing.  This case is also against him,” Casilao added.

Sought for comment by Philstar.com, Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, who heads the quarantine enforcement arm of the COVID-19 task force, has not responded as of this publishing. 

"In all actuality, my accommodation to them was done with all cautiousness because I am fully aware of the Anti Covid measures being implemented by the government. They were told to observe social distancing and other precautionary health measures," Sinas wrote in his statement. 

Other government officials, including Deputy Administrator Mocha Uson of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel, have largely gotten away with involvement in mass gatherings and breaking quarantine laws. 

'Spontaneous celebration'

"Overjoyed as a birthday celebrant, I was caught up with a traditional Mañanita spontaneously conducted by some of my officers and men in their own volition," Sinas said. 

On April 1, a spontaneous protest was held by members of urban poor community Sitio San Roque in Barangay Pag-asa, Quezon City who began demanding food and financial aid after they received a false tip that supplies were on their way. 

The protest's dispersal resulted in the arrests of 21 of the community's members, who, along with the Quezon City local government, hold that the protest began spontaneously as a result of miscommunication.

The national police and the interior department, though, asserts that urban poor alliance Kadamay intentionally organized the picket to agitate and mobilize people. 

In a press statement then, Sinas said: "I understand the challenges that go with the implementation of our enhanced community quarantine endeavor. However, we have our own sacrifices to make to win this battle with the unseen (enemy)." 

(Editor's note: This article has been updated to remove references to police officers drinking beer as it is unclear if a photo showing Sinas and other officers posing with cans of beer is from another event. The photo was not among the ones posted by the National Capital Region Police Office on its Facebook page)

NCRPO NOVEL CORONAVIRUS PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: August 3, 2020 - 7:14am

A thread of major news, developments and government pronouncements related the extended community quarantine across the country. Real-time updates about the coronavirus outbreak in the Philippines are available in this live blog. (Main image by AFP/Ted Aljibe)

August 3, 2020 - 7:14am

President Rodrigo Duterte approves the recommendation of Cabinet members to place Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal under modified enhanced community quarantine.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque says the new quarantine measures will be imposed starting midnight of August 4 and will stay in place until August 18.

June 29, 2020 - 12:32pm

The inter-agency task force on COVID-19 imposes a moratorium on the transit of locally stranded persons in Western Visayas, Cebu island, Mactan, Eastern Visayas and Caraga.

"Wala na po silang lugar para mag-quarantine," IATF spokesperson Harry Roque says in a virtual briefing. 

(They have no place to undergo quarantine anymore.)

June 28, 2020 - 4:29pm

The Department of Health announces 485 "fresh" COVID-19 cases on Sunday, June 28.

Another 168 are "late" cases, or "released to patients four days ago or more."

Most of the cases are still from the National Capital Region, with 245 "fresh" and 111 "late."

Central Visayas accounts for 120 "fresh" cases and 11 "late" ones. 

June 4, 2020 - 4:10pm

The National Bureau of Investigation's Death Investigation Division has filed murder and perjury complaints at the Department of Justice against Police M/Sgt. Daniel Florendo and four others over the killing of former soldier Winston Ragos.

Complaints of planting of evidence have also been filed against Florendo and Police S/Sgt. Hector Besas.

Ragos was killed, allegedly in self-defense, in Quezon City on April 21 after a confrontation over quarantine protocols. Florendo shot him, saying the former soldier was reaching for a gun. 

A video of the incident showed Ragos had already turned his back to Florendo when he was shot a second time.

May 19, 2020 - 7:59pm

The Department of Foreign Affairs announces that the Philippine Embassy in Yangon repatriated 91 stranded and distressed Filipinos to Manila on Monday through a special chartered Air Asia flight.

"Some of the repatriates were stranded in Yangon due to flight cancellations. Others lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19- related restrictions thus leaving them economically vulnerable to continue living in Myanmar," says the DFA in a statement.

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