MANILA (UPDATE) - Philippine National Police chief Gen. Debold Sinas was allowed to travel to Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro under government's relaxed COVID-19 travel measures, its mayor said Monday.
Sinas was found to have skipped triage during his trip to the province on the day of his positive coronavirus test result, according to the local government.
The Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19 had standardized requirements for tourists and removed documents such as travel authority, medical certificate, and quarantine if they show no symptoms.
Sinas had registered online and received confirmation for his travel from the local government, said Mayor Arnan Panaligan.
The PNP, however, did not coordinate Sinas' arrival with the city government, he added.
"Nag-relax na kasi ang IATF sa kanilang rules sa travel...Hindi pa naman ma-establish ang violation of protocols kasi ang required lang naman ay online registration atsaka confirmation. Dumaan siya sa prosesong 'yun," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
(The IATF relaxed its rules on travel...We cannot yet establish violation of protocols because the only requirements are online registration and confirmation. He went through those processes.)
"'Yung coordination, siguro kasi PNP affair 'yan kaya hindi na kami kasama sa programa."
(On coordination, maybe it was because a PNP affair which was why we were not included in the program.)
Sinas on March 9 took a confirmatory swab test ahead of his visit to Calapan City which turned out negative, Panaligan said. The PNP chief on March 11 took another swab test for his visit to Palawan, which turned out positive, according to the mayor.
Sinas also did not undergo health screening upon his arrival, which he can be held accountable for, said Oriental Mindoro Governor Humerlito Dolor.
The PNP should have undergone screening by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and the city government because he had arrived via helicopter, Dolor said.
"If the city government is saying walang coordination sa kanila at wala ring nangyaring health profiling, for me he can be held [responsible] for that," he said.
(If the city government is saying there was no coordination with them health profiling, for me he can be held responsibility for that.)
"However, I am still deferring my final judgment on the matter kasi we’re still doing our own investigation kung ano talaga ang nag-transpire (into what really transpired)."
Local police officers who were exposed to Sinas have been isolated and have yet to show symptoms, Panaligan said.
Sinas, as then-Metro Manila police chief, previously came under fire for holding a mañanita or pre-dawn birthday serenade for himself at the height of a strict lockdown in May.
President Rodrigo Duterte said he has "forgiven" the police official despite the health protocol breach, vouched for his loyalty in service and promoted him to head the PNP.
Noting that instead of being held to account for the mañanita, Sinas was promoted to the top police office, Sen. Francis Pangilinan said the incident in Oriental Mindoro illustrates that "when these lapses or violations are condoned, then it will be repeated."
"Dahil paulit-ulit na pinalalagpas itong mga pang-aabuso at paglabag sa mga quarantine rules ng mga mismong dapat nagpapatupad, hindi na tayo dapat masorpresa na paulit-ulit ding mangyayari ito," he told ANC's Headstart in a separate interview.
(Because these abuses and violation of quarantine rules by enforcers themselves are repeatedly ignored, we should not be surprised if these happen over and over as well.)
"Ang puno’t dulo nito, dapat may pananagutan dun sa mga nagkasala. Napakasimple, sa anumang civilized society, that’s how it is: you make a mistake, you’re made to account for it. Dito, napo-promote pa o kaya nare-recycle," he said.
(The root cause of this, there should be accountability from those who made the mistake. That's very simple, in any civilized society, that's how it is: you make a mistake, you’re made to account for it. Here, you're promoted or recycled.)
For the opposition senator, Sinas "should be made to account for his transgressions."
"He should be made to explain and be subjected to administrative proceedings, even if he is the PNP Chief…No public official is above the law," he said.