NCRPO chief Sinas may still be held liable for mañanita mess, Palace says
This photo posted by the NCRPO Public Information Office shows a birthday celebration for Police Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas despite quarantine protocols against mass gatherings.
NCRPO PIO, released and then later deleted
NCRPO chief Sinas may still be held liable for mañanita mess, Palace says
Alexis Romero ( - May 21, 2020 - 7:47pm

MANILA, Philippines — Cases against Police Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas, National Capital Region Police Office chief, will proceed even if President Rodrigo Duterte has justified quarantine violations at a birthday gathering for the senior police official.

Sinas and 18 other police officers are facing criminal and administrative charges over a May 8 party that violated a ban on mass gatherings in areas with coronavirus cases.

Photos of the celebration uploaded on social media showed that some of the guests of the birthday celebration for Sinas were not wearing masks. There were also photos of the NCRPO police blowing his cake and talking to guests who are lining up for the buffet table.

In a public address last Tuesday, President Duterte said he won't fire Sinas, saying it was not his fault if some people serenade him during his birthday. Duterte has also described Sinas as a "good" and "honest" officer and that he needs him to monitor the peace and order situation in Metro Manila while the region is under quarantine.

"At kung ‘yun namang sabi na nakikita hindi naka-mask, eh siyempre may mga meryenda ‘yan, may pagkain. Alang-alang naman kainin nila pati ‘yung mask. ‘Di tanggalin talaga nila. Kainan iyon eh," he also said.

(And about those people not wearing masks, of course, it was a snack, there was food. Of course, they can't eat their mask. So they will take it off.)

Duterte's deicsion to retain Sinas has sparked outrage, with critics accusing him of having a double standard and turning a blind eye to violations committed by officials.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the legal processes in the cases filed against Sinas would proceed even if Duterte retained him as Metro Manila's top cop.

"I think what the President said was clear. He (Sinas) will remain in his post for now. The president used to be a prosecutor and the president knows that the processes of the criminal case should move forward," Roque said at a press briefing on Thursday.

"This has been filed before prosecutors and there will be a preliminary investigation. There would be a decision on whether it would be filed before the courts. If they decide to file it before the court, he has to defend himself," he added.

Roque said the administrative cases against Sinas would also move forward. Sinas and 18 other police officers are facing administrative complaint for less neglect of duty and less grave misconduct.

"If the recommendation is to pursue administrative cases...since he said he won't be fired, he would remain in his post for now, that is without prejudice to whatever would be the decision on the administrative cases, whether the Palace would allow the filing of the cases," he added.

Asked whether Sinas is not yet off the hook despite Duterte's decision to keep him, Roque replied: "I think what the president said was clear. For now, he stays. But we do not know what will happen in the next days because the process continues."

The Internal Affairs Service of the Philippine National Police has said it will not withdraw the cases against Sinas and his companions despite the president's statement.

The police officers have been accused of violating the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act and a local ordinance requiring the wearing of face masks and observance of physical distancing. The National Bureau of Investigation has also vowed to continue its probe of the gathering. 

The Philippine National Police has, in the recent past, shown readiness to act on the president's pronouncements even without a written order.

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