Metro Manila top cop apologizes over birthday get-together during ECQ

Robie de Guzman   •   May 13, 2020   •   415

Police officers paid tribute to Major General Debold Sinas (right) by surprising him with a mañanita on his birthday.

MANILA, Philippines – National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Major General Debold Sinas on Wednesday apologized for his birthday celebration, which drew flak for supposedly violating protocols on physical distancing and the ban on mass gathering amid the enhanced community quarantine due to novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a statement, Sinas said he did not intend to disobey protocols related to the implementation of the ECQ to contain the spread of COVID-19.

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

He also said that some of the photos 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 showed Sinas handing cakes and roses during an event. A photo also showed Sinas sitting at a table with guests.

The photos were said to be taken during a party held for Sinas to celebrate his birthday. Police officers gave him a mañanita, a traditional early morning serenade, where they dine together.

The said event was met with criticism for allegedly breaking quarantine rules.

“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.

He added that he was “overjoyed as a birthday celebrant,” and “caught up” with the mañanita held by some of his officers.

He said he accommodated his guests with “all cautiousness” as he was aware of the measures being implemented against 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,” he said.

Philippine National Police chief General Archie Gamboa said he already ordered a probe into the incident.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año also said that Sinas, as a police official, should serve as an example in following protocols especially those related to the containment of COVID-19.

‘No need to panic buy,’ Palace reminds public

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 3, 2020

Consumers in Metro Manila flocked to grocery stores after President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday night, approved the reversion of some areas to Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) in response to the medical frontliners’ plea for a two-week “timeout”.

This prompted Malacañang on Monday to remind the public not to panic buy amid the implementation of MECQ in the National Capital Region (NCR).

“Walang dahilan para mag-panic buying. Supplies are high, delivered in supermarkets in anticipation of bigger demand prior to MECQ,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

The Palace official reiterated that only essential establishments will remain open including supermarkets, banks, and hospitals. He also said that the “time out” will be used to strengthen the government’s testing, tracing, and treatment of COVID-19.

“This is primarily to accede to the demand of the frontliners for a break. A ‘time out,'” Roque said. AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

Pampanga to return to ECQ if spike in COVID-19 cases continues, governor warns

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 8, 2020

Pampanga Governor Dennis Pineda warned of reverting the province to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) if the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases continues to rise.

“Tumaas po ang mga kaso natin. I have no choice kung hindi ibalik sa GCQ ito o ECQ kung aabot tayo sa worst situation (Cases in our province increased. I have no choice but to revert to GCQ or ECQ if the situation worsens),” he said.

After the province was placed under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) on June 15, new COVID-19 cases went up by 25. As of July 7, according to the Provincial Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, there are 166 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Pampanga, with 100 recoveries and 16 deaths.

Only Arayat and Masantol, Pampanga remain COVID-19-free, the Pampanga governor said. He reminds residents to only leave the house if necessary.

“Hindi po sinasabi ng MGCQ na libre kayo na makipagkwentuhan sa ibang lugar (Just because it’s MGCQ, it doesn’t mean you are free to meet up in other places),” he said.

Barangay Capalangan and Sulipan in Apalit are currently under hard lockdown until July 16 due to the surge of COVID-19 cases in the area. AAC (with reports from Leslie Huidem)

Metro Manila may revert to ECQ if COVID-19 situation worsens — Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   July 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Metro Manila may return to stricter enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) if the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation worsens in the capital region.

In a televised press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the government may possibly reimpose ECQ on Metro Manila if hospitals in the region hit maximum capacity due to surge in COVID-19 cases.

“Pag lumala talaga, at mawalan tayo ng critical care capacity o di kaya ay case doubling rate ay bumalik sa dati na napakabilis, wala po tayong alternatibo,” he said.

“Yun nga po ang pinapakiusap sa ating kababayan, pag tayo bumalik sa mas estriktong quarantine, baka wala na po tayong hanapbuhay na pwedeng gawin,” he added.

Roque issued the statement after the country recorded a record-high 2,434 additional cases on Sunday, bringing the total cases to 44,254. Most of these infections were reported in Metro Manila.

Metro Manila is currently under general community quarantine where public transport and some business sectors have been allowed to resume operations at a limited capacity.

It was previously placed under ECQ for more than two months.

The Department of Health earlier said that the spike in infections was due to increased physical contact of the public following the easing of quarantine restrictions.

But Roque said the government had no choice but to loosen the quarantine measures in order to revitalize the economy.

“Wala naman tayong alternatibo kundi magbukas ng ekonomiya… Kung di pa po natin mabubuksan, mamya buhay nga tayo, mamatay naman tayo dahil wala tayong hanapbuhay,” he said.

The Palace official, meanwhile, belied reports that hospitals in Metro Manila have reached full capacity amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Roque said that as of July 5, Metro Manila’s critical care utilization is still at 63 percent or moderate risk level.

He also clarified that many hospitals have yet to breach the 30 percent hospital bed capacity for coronavirus patients.

“Nililinaw po namin na yung mga kumakalat na fake news na ubos na raw po ang hospital beds sa ating mga ospital, di po yan totoo,” he said.

Roque also revealed that Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega has been designated to head the Hospital One Incident Command which will determine the critical care utilization and hospital care capacity rate. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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