Sinas apologizes over birthday party but claims viral photos 'edited'

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 13 2020 01:54 PM | Updated as of May 13 2020 02:35 PM

Photo from the NCRPO PIO's official Facebook page, posted May 8, 2020

MANILA — Metro Manila's top cop apologized Wednesday for his birthday celebration, which drew backlash for supposedly violating the ban on mass gathering and rule on physical distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas said he did not intend to disobey any existing protocols related to the enhanced community quarantine, which was implemented to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

"I apologize for what transpired during my birthday that caused anxiety to the public," he said.

He said some of the photos that had been circulating online were "edited and grabbed from old posts."

"The pictures may depict itself, however it does not define the totality of what really had happened," he said.

The photos were published on the Facebook page of the NCRPO, showing police officers giving Sinas roses and cakes during the May 8 event. Photos also showed Sinas mingling at a table and guests lined up at buffet meals.

"May 8 is the day when God aggrandize his love for me and my family for it is the day when I was born. That day, I was blessed and honored that another year has been added to my life," Sinas said.

Sinas said he was "overjoyed as a birthday celebrant" and was "caught up" with the "Mañanita" surprise initiated by his officers.

He said that he accommodated his guests with "all cautioness" as he was aware of the government's protocols against the spread of COVID-19.

"They were told to observe social distancing and other precautionary health measures. They were also told not to linger and prepare for the simultaneous relief distribution NCR-wide that day," Sinas added.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Archie Gamboa already ordered an investigation into the birthday celebration of Sinas, whom he earlier defended.

Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, who oversees the police, said Sinas' birthday was "a big no-no" under lockdown rules.