Well, that was quick.
National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Chief Major General Debold Sinas apologized this afternoon for hosting his birthday party while Metro Manila is on lockdown, a time when mass gatherings are prohibited.
Sinas is now the center of controversy after photos from a May 8 Facebook post shared by the NCRPO Public Information Office went viral yesterday. The posts showed multiple photos of Sinas celebrating with his men, and in at least one photo shared by a netizen, there appeared to be several cans of beer placed on top of and underneath their table.
Booze has been banned in many areas in the country, as well as mass gatherings.
In a statement sent to the media, Sinas that he just got “caught up” in the event organized by his subordinates.
“[M]y accommodation to them was done with all cautiousness because I am fully aware of the Anti COVID measures being implemented by the government. They were told to observe social distancing and other precautionary health measures. They were also told not to linger and prepare for the simultaneous relief distribution NCR-wide that day,” Sinas added.
Sinas alleged that the photos circulating on social media were “edited” and “grabbed from old posts.” He said that they do not totally reflect what occurred during that celebration.
“Nevertheless, I apologize for what transpired during my birthday that caused anxiety to the public. It was never my intention to disobey any existing protocols relative to the implementation of [the] Enhanced Community Quarantine,” he said.
Last night, Sinas denied in an interview that a party took place, despite the existence of the viral photos.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief General Archie Gamboa has defended Sinas, but Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said in a radio interview today that officials should practice delicadeza — meaning moral propriety — while an epidemic is raging throughout the country. The DILG oversees the PNP.
“I’ve heard of that; I’m leaving the Philippine National Police to conduct an investigation to know what really happened. What I can say to government officials, specifically those under the DILG, have some moral propriety. There are situations when you have to be an example,” Año said.