Guevarra directs NBI to look into Sinas' birthday gathering
This file photo shows Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.
The STAR/Rudy Santos, File
Guevarra directs NBI to look into Sinas' birthday gathering
Kristine Joy Patag ( - May 13, 2020 - 4:43pm

MANILA, Philippines — Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to look into the birthday feast of Police Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas while strict quarantine protocols are in place.

“There is already an existing order to the NBI to investigate violations of quarantine protocols,” Guevarra told reporters in a text message.

“My instruction is to look into all reported cases of non-cooperation/violation of quarantine protocols, regardless of who is involved. The NBI knows who these people are,” he added.

Photos of the Metro Manila police commander’s birthday gathering was uploaded on the National Capital Region Police Office Facebook page but were later deleted.

The photos showed guests lining up for a buffet and a band was also playing. A social media user estimated the number of attendees at 50, at a time when mass gathering is banned to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Police General Archie Gamboa said Wednesday that he directed its Internal Affairs Service to look into Sinas’ celebration, after he said Tuesday that he thinks no violation was done in the birthday feast.

RELATED: 'Insensitive' to hold parties in time of pandemic — Justice Leonen

‘Selective justice’

Critics have since called for exacting accountability from the Metro Manila police commander for violating the very health protocols authorities are told to enforce. Sen. Koko Pimentel who broke his quarantine protocols and OWWA official Mocha Uson, who gathered repatriated Overseas Filipino Workers, are still scot-free were also raised.

National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers president Edre Olalia said in a statement: “The tragedy of societies is the odiously selective mercy and hypocritical compassion only for the rich, famous and/or powerful when they step out of the line or go out of bounds.”

Reacting on allegations of selective justice, Guevarra said: “As justice secretary I have always advised the NBI to enforce the laws fairly and uniformly.”

He also pointed out that Pimental is now under preliminary investigation, which stemmed from a complaint filed against him by a private lawyer.

“Local government officials have also been summoned to explain apparent violations of quarantine protocols,” he added.

“I will instruct the NBI to include more recent cases of alleged quarantine violations by some personalities, if the NBI is not looking into these cases as yet,” Guevarra also said.

Sinas apologizes

Sinas has since apologized “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," he added.

In a separate case—on the arrested teacher who offered bounty for President Rodrigo Duterte’s killing—Guevarra had said that “apology is not one of the grounds for extinguishing criminal liability.”

“I cannot feloniously injure another and get away with it by merely saying ‘sorry,’” he said.

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