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

Robie de Guzman   •   May 14, 2020   •   423

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)

Filipinos abroad with COVID-19 now at 9,607 – DFA

Robie de Guzman   •   August 4, 2020

The number of Filipinos overseas who have contracted novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has increased to 9,607 with 10 new infections, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday.

In its latest bulletin, the DFA said 28 more Filipinos have recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 5,681.

The death toll remained at 693, it added.

“As we continue to battle against this pandemic, the DFA rallies the Filipinos here and abroad to cooperate and responsibly adhere to precautionary measures of the local health authorities of the respective countries in which they reside,” the department said in a statement.

The DFA also reported that 3,233 are undergoing treatment.

Of this number, 254 are in the Asia Pacific Region, 512 in Europe, 2,327 in the Middle East and Africa, and 140 in the Americas, it added.

Mandaluyong LGU puts city under special concern lockdown

Maris Federez   •   August 4, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The local government of Mandaluyong has put all barangays in the city under special concern lockdown amid the implementation of the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in Metro Manila.

Eleven barangays in the city are classified as areas of special concern by the local government due to high cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

But with the reversion of the National Capital Region (NCR) to MECQ on Tuesday (Aug. 4), the Mandaluyong government decided to put the whole city on special concern lockdown.

Mandaluyong’s Executive Order (EO) No 24 stated that under special concern lockdown, stricter curfew measures will be implemented from 8:00 PM to 5:00 AM.

Only individuals classified as Authorized Persons Outside of Residence (APOR) will be allowed to go out.

The city government is also mulling over applying the previous MECQ guidelines anew, such as on scheduling market days in every barangay.

With the start of the curfew on Tuesday night, the local government advises those who work on graveyard shifts to secure a work pass from their employers.  

“Yung mga work passes kasi ang requirements lang naman niyan per barangay is to ahow to the barangay their ano certificate of employment. para atleast kahit papaano, makapasok sila sa trabaho nila,” said Jimmy Isidro, the Mandaluyong City government chief of staff.

The city government is also considering enforcing liquor ban in the area anew during the MECQ.

Employees at the Mandaluyong City Hall are also on a skeleton workforce to receive documents and transactions as business in the city is open as usual. — (with details from Vincent Arboleda) /mbmf

Former gov’t COVID-19 special adviser calls for voluntary ECQ

Marje Pelayo   •   August 4, 2020

Dr. Tony Leachon

MANILA, Philippines — Former Covid-19 National Task Force Adviser Dr. Tony Leachon said he recommended the re-imposition of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila when he was invited to the Malacañan Palace on July 15.

Last weekend, medical professionals expressed the same recommendation to the national government in hopes of stopping the mounting coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases.

But because of economic considerations, the government has decided to reinforce modified ECQ instead.

Leachon said he welcomes this decision.

“The MECQ has activity and mobility of 50 percent. It will not totally stop the transmission,” he noted.

“But we will observe in the next two weeks whether the MECQ will arrest the transmission,” he added.

He explained that the number of COVID-19 cases in the country is alarming considering that there are unreported cases, or even deaths linked to the new coronavirus.

“When they go to the emergency room they are severely sick then would be intubated and they die, or they are rejected from the hospital so they die at home, or they don’t have access to RT-PCR because it’s expensive” Leachon explained.

So ang daming namamatay diyan na ganyan (So, many cases die that way )” he added.

At this point of the pandemic, Leachon is calling on the public to submit themselves to a voluntary ECQ especially the old and the sick.

Tayo na ang magboluntaryo mismo na huwag na tayo makadagdag. Ang lumabas na lang ay iyong talagang kailangang lumabas, iyong 50% ng workforce (Let’s take it upon ourselves not to add to the problem. Only those who need to go out should be outside, such as 50% of the workforce),” Leachon advised.

“Pero iyong iba, iyong 25% doon sa GCQ ay huwag na po. Huwag na, kasi kapag nagkasakit kayo wala ng pera nga ang government tapos baka magkasakit pa ang mga doktor (But others, the 25% in the GCQ areas, it’s better not to go out. Refrain from going out because once you get sick, the government no longer has funds and worse, the doctors might get sick as well)” he stressed.

Dr. Leachon also highlights the importance of adhering to the minimum health standards, including wearing a face mask and face shield, and using disinfectant for protection. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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