Sinas to remain in post pending probe on mañanita, PNP says

Robie de Guzman   •   May 14, 2020   •   635

NCRPO chief Major General Debold Sinas

MANILA, Philippines – National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Major General Debold Sinas will remain in his post despite the ongoing investigation for possible violations of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) protocols during his controversial birthday celebration on May 8, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said Thursday.

Atty. Alfegar Triambulo, inspector general of the PNP’s Internal Affairs Service (IAS), cited two reasons why Sinas and other police officials will not be removed from the position while the probe is underway.

Based on the PNP protocol, a police official under investigation should be relieved from his post since he might influence its result.

Triambulo explained that the country is currently facing a public health crisis and police officials being investigated are among those implementing the measures set by the government against the coronavirus pandemic.

“Hindi natin gagawin ‘yun kasi maganda naman ‘yung performance nila, kaya sinasabi ko very delicate matters ito kaya nandoon ako, kasi kung magkamali tayo dito, eh baka ang talo dito ‘yung taongbayan. Ito yung mga tao na nagpatupad noong pressure ng gobyerno para labanan ‘yung Covid at maganda naman. Hindi naman natin makaila na maganda performance nila,” he said.

The PNP-IAS chief assured that Sinas won’t be able to influence the outcome of the investigation as it is being handled by a civilian lawyer.

“Dalawang space itong iimbestigahan natin. Kasi kung mayroong dapat i-correct para hindi maulit-ulit kasi nasa krisis tayo para maiwasan sa ibang mga lugar sa mga kampo na magkakaroon ng ganitong insidente,” he said.

“Yung pangalawa, yung individual liability, kasi maraming involve dito. Yung degree ng kanilang responsibility, hindi pareho,” he added.

Triambulo also said they are carefully investigating the matter as it also involves other police officers who organized the mañanita for Sinas in the morning of May 8.

A mañanita is a police and military tradition of greeting a police commander to celebrate their birthday.

It drew flak after photos allegedly taken at the event, which circulated online, showed Sinas mingling with his guests and that social distancing was not observed. It also appears that the event violated the ban on mass gathering during the quarantine.

“Kapag nagkamali tayo sa ating approach baka ma-prejudice yung public interest. Kasi itong mga taong ito, ito yung mga leaders, mga opisyal na nagpapatupad ng policy ng gobyerno para labanan ang Covid crisis dito sa NCR,” he said.

“Ngayon, kung sa ating approach baka hindi maganda at ma-demoralize sila, apektado yung general welfare. Kaya kailangan, i-balance natin,” he added.

The IAS has been tasked by PNP chief Archie Gamboa to lead the investigation to ensure impartiality and preclude any perception of influence over the outcome of the inquiry.

In a separate statement, Gamboa said he expects to receive a complete investigation report on the incident on Friday.

“Per initial assessment, there is probable cause for the filing of criminal and administrative charges in relation to quarantine health protocols. IAS personnel are now in the NCRPO gathering affidavits as support documents to file these cases,” the PNP chief said.

He said that for the administrative cases, they will be transmitted for approval by the Office of the President.

“We will refrain from issuing further statements in deference to the proceedings. Allow the investigation to take its due course and respect our prerogative to exercise command management of the PNP,” Gamboa said.

The PNP chief also stressed that the incident is isolated and should not undermine the frontliners’ sacrifices.

“The PNP’s role in our government’s fight against COVID-19 crisis is critical. The transition from ECQ to GCQ will entail greater vigilance on our part to keep the Filipino public safe. The incident, while unfortunate, is isolated and should not undermine the sacrifice of our own frontliners,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

Cold chain group still awaits gov’t order on unified plan for COVID-19 vaccine storage

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Cold Chain Association of the Philippines (CCAP) said they are still awaiting direction from the national government on the unified plan for storing COVID-19 vaccines in the country.

CCAP president Anthony Dizon said they are still unsure if the government will seek out their services in storing vaccines. Dizon said they can provide 80 cold storage facilities to various areas in the countries.

“We are confronted with a national emergency for we have to have a plan that will be implementable nationwide. For planning purposes , it would be better if we sit down together,” he said.

Dizon added that local government units (LGUs) have been coordinating with several members of the Cold Chain Association of the Philippines for their own vaccine storage. However, a unified plan for all CCAP members will be more beneficial once vaccine distribution begins.

Preparations for the storage would include the number of vaccines that will be stored and how long the vaccines will be stored.

“We have received information that different LGUs have approached some of our members in certain localities and I am elated that certain LGUs have taken initiatives to do that but we are still awaiting the program direction from the national implementing agency,” he said.

Currently, several storage facilities are being used for meat and dairy products. Meanwhile, two cold storage facilities owned by Koldstor Centre of the Philippines in Cavite can already be used for vaccine storage.

For Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines however, Dizon noted only two cold storage facilities can be available for use. Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines would need a temperature requirement of -70 degrees Celsius. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Meralco reminds deadline for outstanding bills until Jan. 31

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Manila Electric Company (Meralco) has reminded its customers that the deadline for paying outstanding bills is on January 31.

Meralco Spokesperson Joe Zaldarriaga said the electric company already provided sufficient time since its disconnection policy was temporarily suspended to help customers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Zaldarriaga said customers can still appeal for an extension through Meralco’s business centers.

He added that they are mulling over the recommended extension of the installment scheme in paying power bills.

We’ve already given iyong ample time. One year na ang—almost one year na magmula noong we stopped disconnecting since March and although, pinag-aaralan pa rin naman natin and on a case-to-case basis ay humahanap tayo ng paraan para tulungan iyong iba pang customers (We’ve already given ample time. Almost one year since we stopped disconnecting since March. Although we are still looking into ways to assist other customers on a case-to-case basis), he said.

Zaldarriaga also reiterated the importance of paying on time in order for the electric company to continue its operation and provide service to its customers. AAC (with reports from Asher Cadapan Jr)

Senators seek third hearing on government’s COVID-19 vaccine plan

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Several Senators seek a third hearing to further discuss the national government’s COVID-19 vaccine plan.

The Senate Committee of the Whole may call for another public hearing on the government’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

Senator Franklin Drilon, in a statement, said the two-day inquiry left more questions than answers.

“There are still a number of issues hanging. These too many unanswered questions raise grave concerns, for the survival of the country largely depends on our ability to implement a successful vaccination program against the COVID-19 virus,” he said.

Drilon noted that the pricing, the sourcing of the vaccines, the delivery schedules, and the logistical support plan are several of the urgent questions needed to be answered.

“We did not get any definite answers to these serious questions. I believe another round of hearing is in order. I support the call of Sen. Panfilo Lacson for more hearings,” he added. –AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

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