The Philippine National Police (PNP) on May 15 filed criminal cases against National Capital Region Police Office Chief Debold Sinas and 18 other police officers for having a surprise birthday party celebration on May 8 during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
Lawyers Michael Darwin Bayotas and Alfegar Triambulo along with PNP Brig. Gen. Baltazar Israel of PNP Internal Affairs Services file the criminal and administrative cases against Sinas before the Taguig prosecutor's office.
According to the investigation, Sinas and the other police officers committed neglect of duty and misconduct for the gathering. The memorandum dated May 14 detailed the violations during the party, and was addressed to PNP Chief Archie Gamboa.
As stated in the memorandum, the gathering is in violation of Republic Act No. 11332, or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Concern Act, and Taguig City Ordinance No. 12, which requires wearing of face masks and stringent physical distancing.
On May 13, photos of the party or so-called mañanita were uploaded on the NCRPO official Facebook page, but were taken down due to criticism. Photos showed around 50 attendees lining up for a buffet and sitting in round tables. Sinas was also seen receving roses from guests and blowing candles on his birthday cake.
The event took place on May 8 in Taguig City. At that time, the area was under ECQ. Mass gatherings are prohibited under ECQ, as per the recommendations of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Sinas apologized on May 14, but insisted no health guidelines were violated during the event.