• The Financial District


Human Rights Watch (HRW) has scored Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) for not only violating lockdown rules by holding a birthday bash on May 8 but also for punishing a reporter who wrote about it.

“Metro Manila’s police chief Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas should be disciplined for his flagrant violation of the Philippines’ strict quarantine and lockdown regulations. His superiors should not allow Sinas to play this double standard game, where he celebrates his birthday with friends all around like there’s no pandemic, but the ordinary people of Metro Manila face tight restrictions enforced by his officers, whose disproportionate strictness has resulted in rights abuses. ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ is not a viable policing strategy in a pandemic. By flouting these regulations, Sinas recklessly endangered his friends and subordinates at the party, and damaged the moral authority of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to act as a leading agency addressing the COVID-19 crisis,” said HRW deputy Asia director Phil Robertson.

"Worse, once Sinas’ irresponsible behavior was revealed, he sought to deny his action and retaliated against the reporter who broke the story about the birthday party. The NCRPO’s first action was to remove Rappler reporter Rambo Talabong from the NCRPO’s Viber message group. Such vindictive retaliation violates press freedom and the public’s right to know and should be reversed by reinstating Rappler in the Viber group,” Robertson added.

"Responding to a public health emergency means all Filipinos should cooperate with officials, but it also imposes a burden on those officials to be exemplars of the conduct they expect from the citizenry. Maj. Gen. Sinas abysmally failed that test and he should be publicly disciplined for his actions,” Robertson concluded.

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