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

Robie de Guzman   •   May 13, 2020   •   515

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.

MWSS orders Maynilad, Manila Water to implement 30-day grace period, installment plan for ECQ, MECQ bills

Robie de Guzman   •   September 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) on Wednesday told concessionaires, Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Co. to grant their customers a 30-day grace period and three-month installment plan to settle bills that fall due within the tighter community quarantine periods.

In a press release, the MWSS Regulatory Office (RO) said the directive is “in solidarity with the spirit and intentions of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2).”

The grace period will cover bills that fall due within the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified ECQ periods.

The MWSS RO also directed water distributors to implement a three-month installment scheme for all cooperatives; micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME); and domestic customers after the grace period.

“The said directives will provide customers ample time to update payments for water bills that fell due within the 04 to 18 August 2020 MECQ period without incurring interests, penalties and other charges,” the agency said.

It can be recalled that Metro Manila and nearby areas were reverted to MECQ in August in response to the call of the medical community for a “time out” amid rising COVID-19 cases in the country.

“The MWSS RO assures the public that it will do everything in its mandate to protect their welfare and provide the assistance they need to alleviate the financial burden brought about by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic,” the MWSS said.

‘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)

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