MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday night said he will not remove National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Debold Sinas from his post despite allegations that the police official violated coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) quarantine protocols.
In a televised briefing, Duterte said it is his decision not to relieve Sinas of his duty as the capital's top cop, saying it was not the police official's fault that other people wanted to celebrate with him on his birthday.
"Itong kaso ni Sinas, General Sinas, sa National Capital Region commander, ako 'yung ayaw na malipat siya. He is a good officer. He's an honest one, and hindi niya kasalanan kung may mangharana sa kaniya sa birthday niya," he said.
(General Sinas' case, the National Capital Region commander, I am the one who did not want him transferred. He is a good officer. He's an honest one, and it is not his fault that people serenaded him on his birthday.)
Duterte added that it was normal for people to remove their masks during the celebration since they will be eating.
"'Yung nagsasabi na hindi naka-mask, eh siyempre may merienda 'yan, may pagkain. Eh alangan-alang naman na kainin nila pati 'yung mask. Tanggalin talaga nila. Kainan 'yun eh," he said.
(Those who said that they were not wearing masks, of course there is food. They would remove the masks to eat. That was a feast.)
The President also said he studied Sinas' case carefully.
"Hindi ako sang-ayon. I will not just, hindi ako ganoon. Pinag-aralan ko yung merits at demerits. Kailangan ko yung tao. Mas kailangan ko 'yung tao dito sa trabaho niya," Duterte said.
(I do not agree. I studied the merits and demerits. I need him. I need him in his job.)
"They are all competent. But you know, seniority. It is his time to be there. And I do not believe in just firing him because kinantahan siya ng happy birthday (they sang him the birthday song)," he added.
Duterte, likewise, said he believes Sinas would not have allowed such a gathering should he have known about it beforehand.
"I'm sure na kung alam ni Sinas 'yan, hindi siya pumayag. Pero kung nandiyan na, mañanita nga eh," he said.
(I'm sure that if Sinas knew about it, he would not allow it. But it's already there. It's a mañanita.)
He also defended Sinas from those accusing him of violating the law.
"Sabihin mo, the law is the law. Well, akin na 'yun. It's my responsibility, but I will not order his transfer. He stays there until further orders," Duterte said.
(You say, the law is the law. Well, that is on me. It's my responsibility, but I will not order his transfer. He stays there until further orders.)
Duterte's statement on Sinas is contrary to his earlier statement that everyone who violated the law should face the consequences of their actions.
"The law is the law is the law. A rule is a rule is a rule, and when you begin to mess up with the law, talagang ginagarantiya ko sa inyo na makukulong talaga kayo. I will see to it that you go to prison for your kalokohan ninyo," he said in the same briefing, regarding local officials involved in government aid anomalies.
(The law is the law is the law. A rule is a rule is a rule, and when you begin to mess up with the law, I will guarantee that you will go to jail. I will see to it that you go to prison for your violations.)
Philippine National Police chief Gen. Archie Gamboa earlier said Sinas will remain in his post as the country battles the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sinas and 18 others were charged last week for allegedly violating pandemic protocols by allowing and participating in a mass gathering for his birthday.