Shortly after apologizing for his controversial birthday celebration, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Chief Major General Debold Sinas said in a televised interview today that he sees nothing wrong with what he and his men have done, despite vicious criticism from the public that they have violated social distancing rules.
Sinas told CNN Philippines in an interview said that the event was not a party, contrary to claims made by netizens. Instead, it was actually a mañanita, a military and police tradition where a senior officer is serenaded by his colleagues at the dawn of his birthday. He said that the event took place at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City, where he lives and works.
“A mañanita is voluntary. If you believe [in your officer] or are a friend of a senior officer you can go, you can join,” he said in English and Filipino.
“They woke me up and I was so happy that they greeted me. I told them to observe social distancing [during that event]… It wasn’t held in the evening. It wasn’t a party. It was a mañanita,” he reiterated.
The police chief said despite the controversy surrounding the occasion, he has no plans of throwing his subordinates under the bus. He added that he and the other people involved are already being investigated by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“I take responsibility for it. I am not going to blame my people for it because they just wanted to greet me. After we sang and ate, they left and we distributed relief goods after that [event]. Anyway, if we did something [wrong] we are already being investigated by the IAS and NBI. The IAS arrived here yesterday and they asked me for some requirements. The NBI has coordinated with us and today I expect them to visit,” he said.
Despite claiming full responsibility, Sinas said that he has already submitted a list of those who attended the mañanita, and a testimony of what went down that day to investigators. He also insisted that one controversial photo, which shows him and several men sitting behind a table full of beer, was taken way back in November, before the start of the pandemic and the Philippines’ alcohol ban.
“That photo…we traced that. One of our friends posted that. He admitted that that picture was not from that [occasion]. I think that happened in November. You can see no one is wearing a face mask there. That picture was not my birthday,” he insisted.
Sinas said that there was nothing wrong with the mañanita, and that it would have been wrong for him to tell his men not to organize it.
“That gathering, that’s not wrong. We don’t see anything wrong with that, for me ha? It’s just simple greetings….It’s very ungentlemanly if I don’t face them and tell them not to serenade me. They prepared for that. They observed social distancing and they wore masks,” he said.
The official also said he has no plans to go on leave while he is being investigated.
“Unless otherwise instructed by the chief PNP or the President, I don’t think so. It’s not necessary. I will just wait for the results of the investigation,” he said.
The controversy involving Sinas started when the NCRPO’s public information office shared photos of the May 8 celebration, which showed more than a dozen people gathering to celebrate Sinas’ birthday. Netizens have said that the tasteless soiree was a violation of social distancing rules which are being implemented by the PNP and other authorities to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the country.
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