MANILA (3rd UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed controversial Metro Manila police chief Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas as the new head of the Philippine National Police, despite his alleged breach of protocols meant to contain the coronavirus pandemic, Malacañang said Monday.
Sinas' appointment will take effect Tuesday, Nov. 10, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
In May, Sinas drew public ire over a mañanita or pre-dawn birthday serenade at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City that allegedly violated the 10-people limit on gatherings to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus and even while Luzon was under strict lockdown. Duterte had refused to sack Sinas.
Sinas in July also made headlines over his viral confrontation with the family of a retired officer that he and his men asked to leave from a government compound in Taguig City.
He will replace Gen. Camilo Cascolan, who will reach the mandatory retirement age of 56 for uniformed personnel on Tuesday, just about 2 months after he took the helm of the 210,000-strong police force.
Based on PNP hierarchy, Deputy Chief for Administration Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar is the second highest police official behind Cascolan.
Asked why Duterte chose Sinas over higher-ranking officials, Roque said presidential appointments are "executive in character" and Duterte "need not make any explanation," said Roque.
"Nonetheless, tiningnan siyempre ni Presidente 'yung track record ng kaniyang appointee. At matagal nang sinasabi ni Presidente na talagang si bagong PNP chief Sinas ay napakalaki ng naitulong sa kaniyang war on drugs," he added.
(The President of course looked at the track record of his appointee, and the President has long said that new PNP chief Sinas greatly helped in his war on drugs.)
"Let's just say that appointment to the post is a matter of trust and confidence, and he is for the moment, the most trusted by the President," he added.
Roque, as well as Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, urged the public to give Sinas "a chance."
"He has 6 months to prove his worth. Let's see if after 6 months, he will inspire people," Roque said.
"Isang maliit na bagay lang ‘yun, sa totoo lang, yung issue ng mañanita, compared mo sa malaking organization ng Philippine National Police… Ang Presidente naman mismo yung nagdepensa sa kaniya. So, let’s give him a chance," Año, for his part, said in a separate interview with reporters.
The chief of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, under which the PNP falls, said Sinas is "very qualified" for the position, having "gone through the so-called career ladder."
"I expect Gen. Sinas to lead the PNP organization with higher intensity in the fight against illegal drugs, criminalities, extremism or extremists, and communists, bandits, terrorists," Año said.
"He should continue the cleansing program of the PNP to instill professionalism and discipline, and remove - if there are still remaining scalawags - those scalawags from the organization."
A lawmaker from the Makabayan bloc fears of "more human rights violations against the Filipino people" with the appointment of Sinas.
"The people should always be vigilant and stand against this tyrannical rule aimed to silence and curtail our basic human rights," said ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro, who, together with her fellow Makabayan lawmakers, also recounted alleged incidents of killings and other abuses in the Visayas region during Sinas' assignment there.
- with reports from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News