Criminal charges to be filed vs. NCRPO chief Sinas, other police officials over birthday feast – Palace

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 14)— National Capital Region Police Office chief Maj Gen Debold Sinas will be facing a criminal case over his controversial birthday gathering, Malacañang said Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, citing a recent conversation with Philippine National Police chief PGen Archie Gamboa, said a criminal case is "now being readied" and is expected be filed on Friday against Sinas and other senior police officials who attended the feast.

In a message to reporters, Roque said the PNP is likewise seeking clearance from the Office of the President regarding the possible filing of administrative charges against the alleged quarantine violators.

"Maj. Gen. Sinas is a third level officer and a presidential appointee; hence, a clearance from the OP is needed for the filing of administrative charges of the PNP. The same applies to the senior police officials who are also presidential appointees," the spokesperson noted.

Sinas earlier drew flak after photos of his surprise birthday celebration on May 8— which he had labeled as a simple "mañanita" or early morning serenade— made rounds on social media this week.

In the photos initially uploaded on the Facebook page of NCRPO's public information office, police officers were seen giving Sinas roses and cakes, while Metro Manila's top cop mingled with guests seated at various tables.

Netizens and lawmakers alike have slammed the supposed "double standard" and "insensitivity" of the police officers for allowing the gathering while most parts of the country are under lockdown due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Sinas has since apologized for the incident, but claimed he found "nothing wrong" with the gathering, saying proper social distancing and health measures were followed by the guests. He added he will not take a leave of absence from his post— unless ordered by Gamboa or President Rodrigo Duterte himself.

Law enforcers as law followers

In an interview with CNN Philippines on Thursday, Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya expressed his approval towards PNP’s move to file criminal charges against Sinas.

According to the undersecretary, it is important for government officials to set a good example before the public, or else no one will follow the law set by the government.

“Ito pong ating kapulisan at lahat ng government officials, whether you are a government official in the national government... o kayo man ay nasa lokal na pamahalaan hanggang barangay, tayo po ay kailangan maging tamang ehemplo para sa ating mga kababayan,” he emphasized.

[Translation: Our police, and all government officials, whether you are a government official in the national government... or local government up to the barangay level, we need to set a good example to our fellow Filipinos.]

The PNP is an agency attached to the Department of Interior and Local Government, the executive department responsible in promoting peace and order, and ensuring public safety.

“Mahirap po natin sila pasunurin kung tayo po mismo ay hindi susunod sa mga patakaran na tayo ang nagpapatupad,” said Malaya.

[Translation: It is difficult to make the public obey (the law) if we ourselves will not follow the law we implement.]