DoJ chief: Sinas case has to be resolved first before PNP chief can be pardoned

Published November 15, 2020, 12:02 PM

by Rey Panaligan 

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said Sunday the criminal complaint filed against Philippine National Police chief Police Gen. Debold M. Sinas for alleged violation of quarantine protocols has to be resolved first before President Duterte could exercise, if needed, his constitutional power to grant executive clemency.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra

 “Executive clemency may come only after a finding of guilt. If there is no finding of guilt, there’s no room for the application of executive clemency,” Guevarra said.

He stressed that “the President is very much aware that a case is still pending (against Sinas) and he is merely indicating his intent to act with liberality in consideration of Gen. Sinas’ overall performance as a career police officer.”

Last Saturday, the President – in a video message – said Sinas did not commit anything that has “moral implication or malice” in the “mananita” (pre-dawn serenade) for the general’s birth anniversary.

The President also said: “If he’s found liable for it, I would pardon him.”

Guevarra explained that the President’s intent to pardon Sinas “indicates that the President will wait for a finding of fault or guilt after proper proceeding, whether administrative or criminal.”

“The Department of Justice (DoJ) will do what it is duty-bound to do, and the President may also do what he is constitutionally authorized to do,” he added.

Last May, the PNP Internal Affairs Service (IAS) filed a criminal case against Sinas and 18 other police officers for alleged violation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act and Taguig City Ordinance No. 12, Series of 2020, which impose mandatory wearing of face masks and require stringent physical distancing.

The alleged violation of the law and the ordinance was reportedly committed during Sinas’ birth anniversary celebration at the National Capital Region Police Office headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig.

Last week, Department of Justice Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento said the case is still pending resolution by the Taguig Prosecutor’s Office.