National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Police Major General Debold Sinas, is not yet off the hook even after President Rodrigo Duterte said he would not fire the official over allegations that he violated quarantine protocols, Malacanang said on Thursday.
Malacanang spokesperson Harry Roque said Sinas is still facing criminal charges over the mañanita held on May 8 to mark his birthday, where he flouted the ban on mass gatherings and the social distancing rules amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Sa tingin ko po malinaw ang sabi ng ating Presidente: Mananatili po siya sa puwesto sa ngayon. At dahil dati namang piskal din ang ating Presidente, alam po ng ating Presidente na kinakailangan umusad iyong proseso ng kasong kriminal,” Roque said.
“Ito po ay isinampa na sa piskalya, magkakaroon ng preliminary investigation, magkakaroon po ng desisyon kung isasampa sa korte at kung isasampa sa korte, kinakailangan depensahan niya ang kaniyang sarili,” said Roque.
Roque said a clearance from Malacañang is needed before administrative cases can be filed against Sinas and several other police officials who attended the gathering.
Duterte said on Tuesday that he would not remove Sinas from his post.
He said it was not his fault that his subordinates serenaded him on his birthday.
Elated by Duterte’s statement, Sinas urged his critics on Wednesday to move on from the controversy.
Critics said Duterte’s defense of Sinas put into question the sincerity of the government’s drive against quarantine violators.
Senate Minority Franklin Drilon said it may erode public confidence in the ability of the coronavirus task force and the police to enforce the rules.
Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, spokesman of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said the investigation on the administrative liability of Sinas and 18 other policemen who were accused of disregarding the rules on mass gathering and physical distancing is part of the process in the organization.
“The administrative liability is separate from a decision for him to stay (in his position as director of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO). While he stays in his position, the investigation and the administrative proceedings will continue,” said Banac.
Sinas was already charged before the Taguig City Prosecutor’s Office using the photos uploaded in the NCRPO website, which the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) said speak of the violations committed.
But despite the controversy created by the mañanita and the allegation of double standard in the implementation of the quarantine rules, President Duterte defended Sinas and said he would stay on as Metro Manila police chief.
Aside from Sinas, netizens tagged Senator Koko Pimentel and Mocha Uson as the symbols of double standard in the implementation of strict quarantine rules.
Pimentel and Uson are known close allies of President Rodrigo Duterte.
More than 51,000 people were arrested while at least 17,000 were fined for violating the home quarantine rules from March 17 to May 18 based on the PNP data./Stacy Ang