Police official's lockdown birthday bash tests Philippine quarantine rules

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 15 2020 11:44 AM | Updated as of May 15 2020 11:57 AM

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MANILA - The birthday party of Metro Manila police chief Debold Sinas will be a test case in the Philippines' implementation of quarantine rules to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said Friday. 

"We are enforcing the rules—rich or poor—and I think Sinas is the test case for this because he is a high-ranking, middle enforcer and we're taking steps to hold him liable for non-compliance to quarantine rules," Roque said on ANC's Headstart.

The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) threw an early birthday serenade for the its director, Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas on May 8. Photos posted by the NCRPO Public Information Office on its Facebook page showed police officers giving Sinas roses and cakes. Sinas was also seen mingling at a table while others lined up at buffet meals.

Sinas has since apologized for the party that allegedly violated the ban on mass gathering and the rule on physical distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. He earlier insisted that the viral photos were manipulated. 

"PNP chief [Archie] Gamboa assured me that they will be initiating today a criminal complaint for the Fiscal's Office for violation on the ordinance on quarantine," Roque said.

According to the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, violation of quarantine and social distancing rules carry penalties of up to 2 months in prison and/or a fine of P10,000 to P1 million.

"The Executive Secretary asked IAS (Internal Affairs Service) to forward to his office the result of its investigation on this the incident. And the reason is, as a presidential appointee, there would have to be prior clearance for administrative case to be filed against Gen. Sinas," he said.

Sinas' fate will be decided in a separate administrative case, he said.

"The decision to relieve him or to suspend him or to dismiss him is part of the administrative case," he said.