Duterte clears top cop Sinas in mañanita mess

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 14) — President Rodrigo Duterte defended his appointment of Philippine National Police Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas, who drew flak over the mañanita held to celebrate his birthday in May despite strict quarantine restrictions at the time.

“This is my call. I take full responsibility but I also guarantee his (Sinas’) competence and expertise in police work,” Duterte said in a taped message on Saturday.

Duterte said Sinas is as good as pardoned, noting that the criticisms against him over the birthday celebration are nothing compared to corruption.

Akin na ‘yun. At kung may kasalanan siya doon, pardon na siya. Wala akong nakitang kasalanan na masama na may moral implications,” Duterte said. “Maliit na bagay lang yun… dun ako galit sa mga corrupt.”

The PNP Internal Affairs Service filed a complaint against the then Metro Manila police chief and his subordinates over the birthday party held in May. The case has been with the Taguig City Prosecutor’s Office for six months now.

From March to May, Luzon was placed under enhanced community quarantine, which strictly prohibited any form of mass gathering. More than 124,000 quarantine violators have been apprehended as of October. Most of them were let go with a warning but 1,751 are still detained.

Duterte, however, said the mañanita is “almost a religious ritual” to honor policemen on their birthday, adding that Sinas should not be held accountable because it was a surprise party.

Nakaugalian na talaga ng mga Pilipino. Hindi kasalanan ng pobreng Sinas na ‘yan, pumunta sila doon e hindi naman niya alam,” he said.

[Translation: It has become a tradition for Filipinos. It's not poor Sinas' fault. They went there wihout him knowing about it.]

Sinas, for his part, urged the public to “move on” from the issue and allow him to focus on his plans for the next six months as PNP chief.

READ: Sinas' sins? New top cop urges end to mañanita issue, denies hand in killings