‘Not all cops’: Eleazar defends PNP over birthday controversy, claims no double standard

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
âNot all copsâ: Eleazar defends PNP over birthday controversy, claims no double standard
File photo shows Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, who heads the Joint Task Force Shield of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases.
The STAR / Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines — The chief of the quarantine enforcement arm of the country's COVID-19 task force Thursday appealed for users of social media to spare the name of the national police from insults, a day after news broke that the director of Metro Manila police held a birthday party despite clear laws banning mass gatherings. 

In a statement sent to reporters Thursday morning, Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, commander of the Joint Task Force Shield, said that it was unfair of the public to claim there was a double standard in law enforcement. 

Outrage resounded on social media Wednesday after police higher-ups denied that any violations were committed on the part of Police Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas after the latter threw a birthday party despite clear laws banning mass gatherings. 

They first denied that there was ever a party to begin with. 

"I appeal to the public, particularly to our netizens, to spare the entire police organization and other agencies involved in the enforcement of the ECQ Guidelines from insults and other unfair generalization. Our hardworking people on the ground do not deserve them," Eleazar said. 

"I am saddened that the incident that happened at Camp Bagong Diwa has already turned into misinterpretation and accusations that there is a double standard in the implementation of the ECQ Guidelines," Eleazar said.

On the same day that Sinas issued a loose apology for breaking both quarantine protocols and the liquor ban when he held a birthday celebration, a Quezon City resident was arrested by police for violating the liquor ban over the city.

In his apology sent to reporters, Sinas was also to discredit the photographs—the same ones that came from his own public information office—saying they were “edited and grabbed from old posts.”

Before his apology was issued, PNP higher-ups at once denied that it happened and also said that it did not violate any rules, despite photos showing that some of the celebrators were not wearing masks nor observing physical distancing. 

One picture also showed a box of beer in the background despite a liquor ban in effect over Metro Manila. 

Though JTF COVID Shield data shows that crime incidence has dipped marginally since the enhanced community quarantine was put in place in mid-March, cases of overzealous law enforcement also came to light during this time, including the shooting of a former soldier who had post-traumatic stress disorder and the attempted warrantless arrest of a man in his own driveway. 

Sinas is facing an investigation from the PNP's Internal Affairs Service.  

"[It] is absolutely unfair to our men and women on the ground who brave the scorching heat of the sun, who risk themselves to infection everyday and who make a sacrifice to be away from their family just to make sure that every Filipino is protected from COVID-19," Eleazar added. 

"We hope that this controversy serves as a reminder to all the public servants to exercise due diligence and sensitivity in every action they do and in every decision they make that are related to our fight against COVID-19."




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