Palace: NCRPO chief Sinas and other police officials to face criminal charges over birthday gathering

Photo courtesy of Abogado

National Capital Region Police Office chief Maj Gen Debold Sinas will be facing a criminal case over his controversial birthday party, Malacañang said Thursday.

The NCRPO chief drew criticisms on social media for celebrating his birthday despite restrictions on mass gatherings during enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, based on his phone 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 party.

"...A criminal case is now being readied to be filed tomorrow against NCRPO Chief Debold Sinas, along with other senior police officials who attended the gathering," Roque said.

Roque added that 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.

PNP Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac confirmed the impending charges to be filed by the PNP Internal Affairs Service (PNP-IAS).

"Filing of charges will be done by the IAS (Internal Affairs Service), which is now finalizing its investigation," Gen. Banac said in a text message to media.

According to the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, violation of quarantine and social distancing rules carry penalties of up to 2 months in prison and/or a fine of P10,000 to P1 million.

Earlier, Roque said Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea ordered the PNP-IAS to forward the results of the probe to the Palace.

The photos initially uploaded on the Facebook page of NCRPO's public information office showed police officers were seen giving Sinas roses and cakes, while Metro Manila's police chief joined his guests seated at various tables.

This drew outrage from both netizens and lawmakers for having a "double standard" and "insensitivity" of the police officers for allowing the gathering while the country is under lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sinas has apologized for the incident, however, he insisted that there is "nothing wrong" with the gathering since they followed proper social distancing and health measures were followed during the celebration.

He added he will not take a leave of absence from his post unless ordered by Gamboa or President Rodrigo Duterte himself.

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