'No VIP treatment': For the second time, Sinas may face raps over health protocols breach

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
'No VIP treatment': For the second time, Sinas may face raps over health protocols breach
Photo release shows Police Gen. Debold Sinas, the chief of the Philippine National Police, when he visited Oriental Mindoro on the day he tested positive for the coronavirus.
Oriental Mindoro PIO on Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — Police Gen. Debold Sinas, the chief of the national police, could be liable for charges if the provincial government finds in the course of its investigation that he breached coronavirus protocols prior to a visit to Calapan City in Oriental Mindoro. 

To recall, Sinas tested positive for the coronavirus after he supposedly skirted quarantine rules again when government officials earlier claimed he did not undergo health profiling before his visit.

Speaking in an interview aired over ANC, Oriental Mindoro Gov. Humerlito Dolor said that the PNP only directly coordinated with the city government of Calapan, but the provincial government had no prior knowledge of the welcoming party for the police officials.

"For me, there's no such thing as a VIP person, no VIP treatment for anybody. If he has violated the law, he should be held responsible," Dolor said.

IATF Resolution No. 101 only requires authorized persons outside of residence to present a travel order or an ID proving a schedule of visit, an Executive Order from the local government requires all travelers to secure travel coordination passes.

No coordination over air travel, either 

For his command visit, Sinas and his aides entered the province using a chopper, which Dolor in an earlier interview said needed prior coordination since local governments have no control over air travel. 

According to Dolor, the Calapan airport is not used regularly and is only used for private visits, while other airlines do not have regular visits.

"The coordination should then be very strict. According to them, they coordinated with CAAP," the governor said. "It's supposed to be the function of the city government to do the profiling of anyone who arrives."

The governor said that coordination should have included the submission of requirements such as physical assessments, official documentation for the visit, medical certificates, among others.

"The provincial government was not in any way part, and the city government was in charge of the arrival. If the city government is saying that Sinas did not pass through its screening process or did not do coordination, then he should be held responsible," Dolor said. 

Malacañang said earlier that it is leaving it up to the Department of the Interior and Local Government, under which the PNP is an attached bureau, to look into the claim.

PNP claims Sinas 'did more than required'

In a statement issued Sunday, Police Brig. Gen. Pascual Muñoz, who serves as regional director of Police Regional Office Mimaropa called the allegations "false information," saying the police chief was not aware of the other requirements as he simply complied with the ones published on the city's website.  

"By complying with the online registration, the City of Calapan was well informed of the impending visit and the receipt of the Confirmation message means that his travel was allowed," he said.  

"The Chief, PNP may not be able to comply with the requirements of which he was not aware of. The set of requirements as published on the official website of the City of Calapan as well as the Confirmation message he received do not indicate additional requirements other than the registration and the confirmation message."

Muñoz attempted to spin the situation to Sinas' credit, going as far as saying he accomplished more than what was required of him for his travel when "he was legally allowed to exempt himself on some of the requirements."

"He tried his very best to observe the highest safety standard possible," he said, citing a February advisory by the DILG allowing for "unimpeded access" for traveling government officials and ticking off the requirement for COVID-19 testing. 

"Nonetheless, as an additional health measure, even if he was not required by the City of Calapan, the Chief, PNP had himself tested for RT-PCR."

The Mimaropa police chief did not address the lack of coordination with local officials. 

Second violation?

Sinas is known for, among other things, a mañanita celebration that he and his officials held during the enhanced community quarantine last year when protocol enforcement was at its tightest. 

In the aftermath of his birthday party amid the enhanced community quarantine, Sinas first denied throwing the celebration, and then later admitted to it but insisted it did not have any violations.

The case filed against him by the PNP Internal Affairs Service has been with the Taguig City Prosecutor’s Office for ten months now. Sinas was eventually promoted to PNP chief, and President Rodrigo Duterte has practically cleared him of the flagrant violation.

Police Brig. Gen. Brandi Usana, Sinas' spokesperson and formerly PNP Human Rights Affairs Office chief at the time, is also among those tagged in the complaint. 






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