MANILA - The birthday party of the Metro Manila police chief is "a big no-no" under lockdown rules to contain the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of the Interior and Local Government said Wednesday.
The enhanced community quarantine of Metro Manila prohibits celebrations like the party for National Capital Region Police Office chief Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas, said DILG Secretary Eduardo Año, whose agency oversees the police.
"That's a big no-no," he told DZMM.
Subordinates could have organized the party without informing Sinas first, but he should have stopped the gathering "right there and then," said Año.
"Ang aking sinasabi sa ating mga government official, lalo na sa nasasakupan ng DILG, iyong tinatawag nating delicadeza. May mga pagkakataon na kailangan maging example ka," he said.
(I remind government officials, especially those under DILG, of the so-called delicadeza or sense of propriety. There are instances in which you should set an example.)
Photos shared by the NCRPO on Facebook showed police officers giving Sinas roses and cakes during the May 8 gathering. The official was also photographed mingling at a table while others lined up at buffet meals.
Some of the photos in the FB post have been deleted.
Sinas said his men wore masks and gloves during their visit and that he gave them packed lunches.
"'Yung mga kaibigan ko na nagbigay nang lechon, pinamigay ko rin po, lechon at pansit doon sa 5 district at saka sa mobile force," he told One News.
(My friends gave me lechon. I gave it and some pansit to the 5 police districts and mobile force.)
He also denied that he had a party. The gathering was a mañanita, he said.
Mañanita is a police and military tradition in which a commander gets birthday greetings from his or her key officials before dawn, said Año.
"Kaya lang sa panahon ngayon (but in these times), that is uncalled for," he said.
He said he would leave the investigation of the incident up to the Philippine National Police.
PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa said Tuesday he did not believe there was a violation in the gathering because according to Sinas, physical distancing was observed.
"Una walang party nangyari ang sabi ni Gen. Sinas. Probably nagkaroon ng mananita pero doon sa mananita ang sabi ni Gen. Sinas is that inobserve pa din nila 'yung mga social distancing. Now I don't think naman na merong violation ito," he said.
"Now meron 'yung ginawa nyang programa kasi parang in-encourage niya lahat ng kanyang personnel even down to the PCP na magbigay ng ayuda as part of his celebration but of course these are coming from the different police stations, police personnel from NCRPO and he assured me that physical distancing was observed that time."
Gamboa, in a separate statement, said he directed the police Internal Affairs Service to investigate the incident.
The PNP has recorded 164 COVID-19 cases among its members, including 4 deaths and 52 recoveries. The police force is also monitoring 595 "probable" and 389 "suspect" COVID-19 cases.