MANILA (UPDATE) — Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Debold Sinas did not undergo health screening when he visited the province of Oriental Mindoro on Thursday, the same day he announced he was positive for COVID-19, its provincial government has revealed.
In a statement on Friday, the province of Oriental Mindoro said Sinas was not able to undergo necessary health protocols because he arrived through a helicopter and did not pass through the pier of Calapan where screening is being conducted for visitors.
They described the incident as "saddening."
"Si Gen. Debold Sinas ay hindi dumaan sa pier ng Calapan at hindi siya kabilang sa mga na-profile na kawani ng PGOM (Provincial Government of Oriental Mindoro). Siya ay dumating sa lalawigan lulan ng helicopter," the statement read.
(Gen. Sinas did not pass through the pier of Calapan, and he was not among those screened and profiled by the members of PGOM. He arrived through a helicopter.)
"Ikinalulungkot ng Pamahalaang Panlalawigan ang pangyayaring ito."
(The provincial government is saddened by this incident.
PNP spokesperson Police Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana announced on Thursday that Sinas tested positive for the novel coronavirus when he was in Mindoro based on his swab test, prompting him to immediately return to Metro Manila.
He said the police chief is asymptomatic and has volunteered to be confined at the Kiangan treatment facility in Camp Crame in Quezon City.
In a Facebook post also on Thursday, the Oriental Mindoro Provincial Information Services Division (PISD) shared photos of the police chief greeting the police personnel from the Mimaropa Regional Command at the Efegenio Navarro Camp in Calapan City.
Sinas' visit to the province was also meant to oversee the "ceremonial COVID-19 vaccination" of the police force's medical workers there, the post read.
The PISD added that Sinas, along with other regional police officials, inspected the regional police's buildings there.
Sinas was also seen bumping fists with Oriental Mindoro's Provincial Administrator, Dr. Hubbert Christopher Dolor. The both of them were wearing face masks and a face shield.
The provincial government earlier clarified that Dolor was there to also witness the vaccination program, as the officer in charge of the province's health office.
"Ang presensiya ni Provincial Administrator... Dolor sa PNP Mimaropa Regional Headquarters [noong Huwebes] ay hindi upang salubungin si PNP Chief PGen. Debold Sinas," the statement read.
(Dolor's presence at the PNP Mimaropa Regional Headquarters on Thursday was not meant to personally welcome Sinas.)
This is not the first time Sinas was linked to violating COVID-19 health protocols.
He was charged last year in relation to a mañanita or pre-dawn birthday serenade for him at the height of a strict lockdown in May, which allegedly violated the 10-people limit on gatherings.
Sinas was chief of the National Capital Region Police Office at the time, and the entire Luzon was under a strict lockdown.
President Rodrigo Duterte still backed the police official despite this, vouched for his loyalty in service and later promoted him to head the PNP.