By Aaron Recuenco
Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), vowed on Thursday to make accountable Metro Manila police chief Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas and other police officials who were involved in the controversial birthday celebration on May 8.
In a statement, Gamboa said the initial assessment revealed that Sinas and other officials indeed violated some of the quarantine rules under the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).
“Per initial assessment, there is probable cause for the filing of criminal and administrative charges in relation to quarantine health protocols,” said Gamboa.
On Wednesday, the PNP chief tasked the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) led by lawyer Alfegar Triambulo to conduct an investigation regarding the birthday celebration. Photos from the said event went viral in social media for alleged violations of physical distancing and holding of mass gathering, and non-wearing of face masks.
In an interview with Manila Bulletin, Triambulo said he assured Gamboa that the result of the investigation would be submitted to the Office of the Chief PNP by Friday morning.
“We will look into two sets of investigation here, one is for criminal charges, while the other one is administrative charges,” said Triambulo.
The official said the investigation will not only cover Sinas but all the policemen who went to the birthday celebration.
The IAS has the power to file criminal charges against the policemen involved.
For the administrative cases, however, Gamboa said they will be transmitted for approval to the Office of the President.
“We shall 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,” said Gamboa. “The PNP’s role in our government’s fight against the COVID-19 crisis is critical. The transition from ECQ to MECQ 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.”