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PNP chief: Internal Affairs Service readying cases over Sinas 'mañanita'
Photo shows Police Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas not wearing a face mask at a birthday party he denied having, and then later said did not have any violations.
Release / NCRPO PIO

PNP chief: Internal Affairs Service readying cases over Sinas 'mañanita'

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - May 14, 2020 - 7:45pm

MANILA, Philippines — Police Gen. Archie Gamboa, the chief of the national police, said Thursday that there may be probable cause to file charges against Metro Manila police officers for holding a birthday celebration for the chief of the National Capital Region Police Office during the COVID-19 quarantine.

He said that there will be an impartial investigation into individual NCRPO officials as Police Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas has been in the spotlight for a party at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig despite quarantine rules prohibiting mass gatherings and requiring the wearing of face masks. 

"I expect to receive a complete Investigation Report of the incident by tomorrow. Per initial assessment, there is probable cause for the filing of criminal and administrative charges in relation to quarantine health protocols. [Internal Affairs Service] personnel are now in NCRPO gathering affidavits as support documents to file these case," Gamboa said in a statement sent to reporters Thursday evening.

Sinas initially denied that such a party happened, after which he said that nothing was wrong with having the gathering—a narrative he repeated a day after apologizing for the party. 

He has also slammed the credibility of photos of the supposed party, saying some had been edited or taken out of context. Most of the photos were from the NCRPO Facebook page.

Gamboa said the PNP-IAS is set to take the lead in the investigation to ensure impartiality and due process in the proceedings.

This, while administrative cases will be transmitted to the Office of the President for approval to proceed.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque also earlier Thursday said that Sinas was facing criminal charges. 

Gamboa was careful to tag the incident as an isolated one, though the past nine weeks of enhanced community quarantine have also seen cases of aggressive police enforcement, including the killing of a former soldier who had PTSD, and the attempted warrantless arrest of a man in his own home. 

In a separate statement sent to reporters earlier Thursday, Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, who heads the quarantine enforcement task force, said that it is unfair of the public to claim there was a double standard in law enforcement. 

“We shall refrain from issuing further statements in deference to the proceedings. Allow the investigation to take its due course and respect our prerogative to exercise command management of the PNP," Gamboa added.

“The PNP’s role in our government’s fight against the COVID-19 crisis is critical.  The transition from ECQ to MECQ to GCQ will entail greater vigilance on our part to keep the Filipino public safe. The incident, while unfortunate, is isolated and should not undermine the sacrifice of our own front liners.”
 

NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION POLICE OFFICE NOVEL CORONAVIRUS PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE
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