Sinas may not be sacked as NCRPO chief despite controversial birthday feast – PNP spox

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Metro Manila police chief Debold Sinas

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 15) – Philippine National Police chief Archie Gamboa may not relieve Metro Manila top cop Debold Sinas from his post despite the controversy over his birthday gathering last week, his spokesman said Friday.

PNP Spokesperson Bernard Banac told CNN Philippines' The Source that Gamboa and the PNP's Advisory Group has several options in dealing with Sinas and the rest of the cops now in hot water for throwing the National Capital Region Police Office chief a surprise on May 8. They call it a "mañanita" or early morning serenade that is said to be a tradition in the command.

Photos that went viral on social media showed a group of cops in casual attire huddled around tables, giving roses to Sinas, and having him blow candles on birthday cakes for the occasion.

"Once the charges are filed and it is found that there is probable cause, the top management of the PNP may exercise options of administratively relieving officials. But there’s also the possibility that they may stay for the reason that we are in this public health emergency and we may not have to change top executives in the middle of this fight against COVID-19," Banac said. "These are the thing that will have to be considered by the top management."

The PNP's Internal Affairs Service is set to complete its investigation on the birthday gathering this morning, and is expected to file administrative and criminal charges against Sinas as well as all other cops who took part in the feast, Banac said. Those who organized the surprise bash will be investigated as well for putting together the event that qualified as a mass gathering, which is currently prohibited as Metro Manila remains under enhanced community quarantine.

Banac added that Gamboa now knows there may have been breaches committed during the party, noting that there were definitely more than 10 people at the event as seen from the now-deleted photos posted by the NCRPO's public information office.

Officials will likely be charged for the non-cooperation clause of Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act, as well as violations of RA 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, he added.

The charges may merit a possible suspension and even dismissal from service, depending on the evidence available and the findings of the court, Banac said.

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.

READ: No 'double standards', violations seen: NCRPO chief won't take leave amid birthday feast controversy

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As for taking a leave of absence, Banac said it will have to come personally from Sinas and the police officers involved. The NCRPO chief on Thursday said he will not take a leave from his post, unless ordered by Gamboa or President Rodrigo Duterte himself.

Sinas is a third-level officer and is considered a Presidential appointee. The PNP has been tasked to man checkpoints and do regular rounds to apprehend people outside their homes without quarantine passes, as well as those said to be violating physical distancing protocols.

"We would like to assure the public that the PNP is sensitive to the public opinion and all the criticisms and that is why PNP Chief PGen. Archie Gamboa immediately ordered for an investigation on the gathering so that those who may have violated quarantine rules will have to be punished also. This is for justice and fairness to all of us," Banac added, responding to mounting fury towards the PNP official on social media.