NCRPO chief sacks San Juan cops for also breaking quarantine protocols
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 sacks San Juan cops for also breaking quarantine protocols

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - June 8, 2020 - 7:21pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 7:42 p.m.) — Five police officers who violated quarantine rules were sacked from their posts by the National Capital Region Office police director whose quarantine violations were practically waved away in a national address by the president. 

Vehicles belonging to the convoy of San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora drove past a quarantine checkpoint in Baguio City last Friday afternoon on the way to a country club there.

Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, a retired police official, said in an earlier statement that: "When (Zamora's) group was flagged down for inspection, the driver of the lead vehicle just slowed down a bit and merely told the checkpoint personnel that he was part of a convoy, pointing out the vehicles tailing his police car, then forthwith sped off with the mayor’s entourage in tow."

Visitors to Baguio are required to pass through a health screening.

Zamora has apologized for the incident, which he attributed to a "miscommunication." He said that his wife is a Stage 3 breast cancer patient and her doctor had advised her to take a much needed rest. The San Juan mayor said he and his wife had decided to go to Baguio because her family has an old house in the city.  

Zamora claimed he and his companions never had any intention to violate Baguio’s health and security protocols.

This, while an online petition to declare Zamora persona non grata in the city has been launched. 

RELATED: Amid calls for public 'discipline', officials reminded to follow own quarantine rules

'Comprehensive' investigation

In a statement issued Monday, Police Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas, NCRPO director, said that along with being relieved, the cops involved would also be required to submit a written report on the incident pending "comprehensive" investigation. 

“Effective yesterday, I ordered the immediate relief of the five police officers assigned in San Juan, who allegedly ignored a standard border protection measure prescribed in Baguio City, Sinas said in his statement.

Relief does not mean removal from the service.

RELATED: PNP exec apologizes but denies holding birthday party despite quarantine rules

Metro Manila's top cop figured in a controversy last month when a birthday gathering in his honor was documented in photographs posted by his own office.

He has since urged the public to "move on" from the incident. The Palace said Sinas may yet be held liable even if President Rodrigo Duterte has already said Metro Manila's top cop is not to blame for the gathering held in his name.

"I will not condone any wrongdoing of our police officers in the implementation of the community quarantine protocols if held responsible. We, as law enforcers, are bound to respect the existing rules and regulations anywhere in the Philippines. The safety of the people remains our top priority in these trying times," Sinas said of the San Juan police officers in his statement on Monday. 

READ: 'Hard to replace': Sinas to stay as NCRPO director, PNP chief says

According to Sinas, the sacked officers will be transferred to the Metro Manila police's Regional Personnel Holding and Accounting Unit in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City, incidentally the venue of his birthday "mañanita".

Police Gen. Archie Gamboa, PNP chief—who also defended Sinas amid criticism for his party—said in a press briefing that the chief of San Juan police could also be held liable for the incident. 

Malacañang meanwhile urged officials to set a good example after the Baguio City incident.

"We are leaving the investigation of this case to the police. But I appeal to everyone, everyone should set an example," presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at a press briefing.

— with a report by The STAR/Alexis Romero

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