Palace: Sinas not cleared of charges despite PNP chief appointment

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Palace: Sinas not cleared of charges despite PNP chief appointment

Christian Deiparine (Philstar.com) – November 9, 2020 – 6:04pm

MANILA, Philippines — Charges against Metro Manila’s top cop for quarantine violation will continue even as he ascends to lead the country’s police force, Palace has said, despite officials’ remarks in the past that the blunder should be put to rest.

Police Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas’ appointment on Monday drew mixed reactions after figuring in controversy in May over his birthday bash that drew many attendees despite mass gatherings disallowed, a move that has since been roundly condemned.

PNP’s independent Internal Affairs Service had slapped criminal and administrative charges against him and 18 others over the incident, but it has yet to report progress on the matter.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Sinas will not be off the hook on the complaints he is facing as he sought to assure the public that with Duterte’s backing, he would be an effective PNP chief.

“Let’s trust the president in this decision,” he said in today’s briefing. “[And] I don’t think so. That’s not how our law operates.”

Duterte’s latest decision, however, has spurred concern among the public and some lawmakers that the administration is rewarding law breakers instead of holding them to account.

And while Malacañang has insisted that Sinas is not yet cleared, his appointment shows further the president’s apparent trust on him that he has publicly declared in the past.

In an address in May, Duterte shunned calls for the cop’s removal, citing the important role he plays, as well as the reasoning that it was not Sinas’ fault that his colleagues had “wanted to serenade him” on his birthday.

His defense of who would now become the country’s top law enforcer had since been followed through by other officials.

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., the government’s chief policy implementer against COVID-19, in July appealed that incidents such as Sinas’ mañanita should no longer be highlighted.

“Of course, we also have shortcomings. We have to understand that circumstance, which was captured in photos without us knowing it,” he said in Filipino.

Two police chiefs — Archie Gamboa and the outgoing Camilo Cascolan — had backed Sinas too despite the controversy, saying it is already a “closed issue” and that he even deserved a promotion.

Sinas’ appointment takes effect on Tuesday, to lead the PNP taken to carry out coronavirus-related restrictions as well as Duterte’s controversial war on drugs that has seen nearly 8,000 people killed since the operations began in 2016.

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