President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed controversial former top cop Debold Sinas as an undersecretary in the Office of the President, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea confirmed on Saturday.

Sinas was the 25th chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP). He led the country’s police force for six months until his retirement on May 7.

His promotion had been controversial over his celebration of a birthday “mañanita” with police officers held at the height of the Covid-19 scare in the country in May 2020.

During Sinas’ stint as police director in Central Visayas, the region saw an uptick in drug-related killings and arrests. Sinas ordered strict access restrictions on anti-drug operations-related documents.

Sinas was replaced by Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar as PNP chief.

Amid the controversies hounding Sinas, Duterte in November 2020 said he found nothing wrong with Sinas’s participation in the “mañanita” celebration that broke government restrictions on mass gatherings, liquor consumption and curfew hours.

Duterte also said he was fully responsible for promoting Sinas, who had a track record of leading deadly anti-drug operations, which human rights groups have condemned, in Central Visayas.

The appointment of Sinas is another instance of Duterte defending his appointees amid controversy. John Ezekiel J. Hirro