Well-wishers greeting NCRPO Chief Maj. Gen. Diebold Sinas (right in orange shirt). This photo along with other photos of the event were deleted. (photo from the NCRPO-PIO Facebook page)

Criminal charges are being filed against Metro Manila’s top cop, PMaj. Gen. Debold Sinas and other “senior police officials” who were present at his birthday gathering while the region is under the enhanced community quarantine, Malacañang announced on Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Police General Archie Gamboa ordered an investigation on the birthday due to allegations that the party defied the ban on mass gatherings and physical distancing protocols. 

The PNP is requesting clearance from the Office of the President to push the filing of administrative charges since Sinas is a ranking police official, according to Roque.

“Major General Sinas is a third level officer and a presidential appointee; hence, a clearance from the OP is needed for the filing of administrative charges of the PNP. The same applies to the senior police officials who are also presidential appointees,” Roque said.

NCRPO Chief Maj. Gen. Diebold Sinas (seated in orange shirt) with his well wishers. This photo along with other photos of the event were deleted. (photo from the NCRPO-PIO Facebook page)

Photos of Sinas’ mañanita, which were posted on the official Facebook page of the National Capital Region Police Office-Public Information Office (NCRPO-PIO), show guests greeting Sinas.  Other photos show guests lining up near a food station and some showing guests sitting around tables.  Netizens were quick to denounce the seeming disregard for quarantine protocols against mass gatherings and social distancing.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, a former military chief of staff, explained that a mañanita is a tradition among the military and police where the subordinates greet their commander on his/her birthday at the early break of the morning.

Año added that the gathering may not be declared as a party, but the event was still insensitive while the country is doing its best to fight the rising COVID-19 threat.

Sinas apologized and tried to defend himself by saying that some of the photos were edited and grabbed from old photos. However, the photos he claims were edited were taken from the same NCRPO-PIO’s Facebook post.

Even with the mounting pressure, Sinas has refused to go on leave or resign his post. (RJ Espartinez)