Sotto, Lacson, Dela Rosa say Sinas' party during quarantine sends 'very bad signals'
MANILA - Minority Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan on Wednesday said the government should file charges against Metro Manila's police chief and those who attended his birthday party to show that authorities are "serious" in implementing quarantine policies meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
National Capital Region Police Office chief Debold Sinas earlier apologized but insisted that some of the photos - posted on the NCRPO's official Facebook page - were edited.
"Mabuti pa siya sorry [lang], pati lahat ng pulis at bisita na dumalo sa salu-salo hindi kailangan makasuhan o ikulong, habang libu-libo na ang inaaresto sa paglabag sa quarantine," Pangilinan told reporters in a text message when sought for comment.
(He's lucky that he can just say sorry, and his visitors who attended the gathering do not need to face charges or be imprisoned while thousands have been arrested for violating the quarantine.)
"Kung may paglabag dapat kasuhan... Kung seryoso sila sa pagpapatupad ng batas sa lahat dapat sampahan ng kasong paglabag sa batas ang mga yan at ikulong kasama ang lubu-libo na kinulong nila dahil sa quarantine violations," he said.
(If there is a violation, charges have to be filed... If they are serious in implementing the law, they should file charges against those officials for violating laws and detain them along with the thousands who were jailed for quarantine violations.)
While the Philippine National Police (PNP) has its own set of procedures for erring officials, authorities should consider filing administrative charges if Sinas is found guilty of violating quarantine policies, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said.
"It would not be farfetched if an administrative case is filed against an erring officer... 'Pag pulis ang gagawa ng violation, hindi man lang pagsasabihan? Hindi maganda," Sotto told reporters in an online press conference.
"Walang matutuwa sa mga kababayan natin na ganun ang nakikita na 'pag karaniwang tao huhulihin, pag opisyal gumawa, puwede. Walang makakagusto noon," the Senate President said.
(Our countrymen will not be delighted to see that Filipinos are being jailed, while officials are allowed to violate. Nobody wants that.)
"It sends very bad signals. At least a reprimand is in order... Kung ang pangkaraniwang mamamayan sinisita pag nagba-violate, dapat tayong mga opisyales din sinisita pag nag ba-violate," he said.
(If they are reprimanding ordinary citizens who violate laws, officials should also be reprimanded when they violate laws.)
Other senators also criticized Sinas and the NCRPO for sending a "very bad signal" to Filipinos who have been mandated to forego their income and usual lifestyles, and stay indoors during the enhanced community quarantine.
"More than the quarantine violation, from whatever direction we look at the incident, it projects a bad example, coming even from those tasked to enforce the enhanced community quarantine," former police chief Sen. Panfilo Lacson told reporters in a text message.
"It could have been better if they just delivered the food packs at the doorsteps of every household to avoid mass gathering and violating the social distancing protocol," Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa, also a former police chief, said in a separate statement.
Sotto called on the Philippine National Police (PNP) to investigate the incident, especially after reports that alcoholic beverages were also consumed during Sinas' party despite a liquor ban.
"Hindi natin alam 'yung context nung alak... Kung 'yun ay binili at dinala doon, aba may violation," Sotto said.
(We don't know the context o f the liquor... If those are bought and brought to the party, there is a violation.)
"Dapat at the very least, dapat magka-inquiry... para mapanatag ang loob ng mga kababayan natin na tinitingnan lahat ng maaaring violations," he said.
(There should be an inquiry at the very least... so that we can assure our countrymen that we are looking into all violations.)
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, whose agency oversees the police, earlier said that Sinas' party was a "big no-no" during the enhanced community quarantine.
"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.)
The PNP has ordered to investigate the incident.