President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said Debold Sinas stays as police commander of Metro Manila despite public uproar over a birthday “mañanita” held amid the lockdown.

In a broadcast aired over state television, Duterte said Sinas didn’t know he would be serenaded by his men at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig early on May 8, his birthday.

Mass gatherings are banned during the lockdown, and Sinas and his men were seen in photos partying and drinking. There was also a buffet setup.

The mañanita incident triggered accusations of a double standard between VIP and ordinary people.

Duterte defended Sinas, backing an earlier statement by national police chief Archie Gamboa that the Metro police chief was “hard to replace.”

I don’t believe in firing him because kinantahan siya ng ‘Happy Birthday,’” Duterte said.

“Ako yung ayaw na malipat siya (Sinas). He is a good officer, an honest one. Di niya kasalanan kung may mangharana sa kanya sa birthday niya,” he said.

Duterte said some of the attendees in the controversial mañanita removed their masks because there was food. “May meryenda yan,” he said.

Sabi mo, the law is the law, well, akin na ‘yun (That’s mine). It’s my responsibility,” he said. (