Netizens have been lambasting National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Chief Major General Debold Sinas after photos of what appears to be his birthday celebration circulated online yesterday.
The controversy stemmed from a Facebook post shared by the NCRPO Public Information Office on March 8, which appeared with the caption, “Happy birthday, Sir Dodong!” The photos showed several members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) bringing Major General Sinas a birthday cake and roses, while a few more were photographed eating from a buffet spread. At least a dozen people, most of whom wore face masks, appeared in the photos, and netizens pointed out that it was a violation of the country’s ban on mass gatherings amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
NCRPO’s post could no longer be found this morning.
In an interview on a television talk show last night, Sinas denied that a party happened, despite the existence of photographs that documented the event.
“Actually, we didn’t party. No one partied. These are just my well-wishers,” Sinas said in English and Filipino.
He added that his men merely visited him in his office in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City to serenade him on his birthday.
“That’s in my quarters. Of course, I will accept them. They wore masks, some even wore gloves, and there was social distancing. Before the afternoon they visited me in the office, they gave me a cake, which I accepted. There was no party, ma’am,” Sinas told the show’s host.
Ignoring the existence of the photo showing several men getting food from a buffet, Sinas insisted that guests actually ate “packed lunch” which included the lechon and pancit given to him by his friends.
Meanwhile, PNP Chief General Archie Gamboa defended Sinas in a virtual briefing held yesterday, where the former said he was assured by the latter that social distancing was practiced during the celebration.
“He assured me that physical distancing was observed at that time. If there is anything, then I will look into it but as of yet I still trust General Sinas,” Gamboa said in English and Filipino.
However, he said that Sinas has to follow the law.
“We all know that his job at the NCRPO is really tough but nevertheless it is not an excuse for him not to follow simple health protocols,” Gamboa added.
“We don’t really know if parties are allowed because we know that if there is a party, the violation here would be mass gathering. So we really don’t know as of yet, but as of now, it’s forbidden because there is no detailed policy about this,” he said.
Last April, several cops trespassed a Taguig City condominium and threatened its residents with arrest because they allegedly violated social distancing rules while lounging in the property’s garden. The residents rejected their accusations and have threatened to sue the erring policemen.
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