VICE President Leni Robredo yesterday took PNP chief Gen. Debold Sinas to task for breaching health protocols upon his arrival in Oriental Mindoro last Thursday, the day he announced that he tested positive for COVID-19.
Robredo said Sinas committed two violations during his Calapan City trip: he did not follow government guidelines on persons who had swab testing, and he skipped health protocols
imposed by the provincial government of Oriental Mindoro.
Robredo reminded Sinas that public officials should be the ones setting an example to the public because they have a responsibility not be carriers of the virus.
“There’s no excuse because no one is excused from the virus, right? So that’s why whatever policy there is on the ground, we have to follow. Like what I’ve said, it’s our responsibility to be carriers,” she told anchor Ely Saludar on her weekly radio program on RMN.
The Oriental Mindoro provincial government has complained that Sinas skipped health screening when he did not pass through a pier in Calapan City for profiling, which is a requirement of the province. The PNP chief instead went directly to the PNP-MIMAROPA regional headquarters in Calapan City on board a helicopter.
Calapan City Mayor Arnan Panaligan said Sinas must be held responsible for his “reckless behavior.”
“He rode a helicopter and went straight to the camp, he didn’t follow the procedure,” Robredo said, insisting that “Sinas should have been screened upon arrival at the camp.”
The Vice President also scored the PNP chief for not waiting for his COVID test result to come out first before travelling to Mindoro, saying that’s “clearly a breach.”
“If you’ll undergo a test without waiting for the result, what’s the purpose?” Robredo said, noting that government guidelines require persons who underwent testing on suspicion that they might be carriers of the virus to go on self-quarantine while waiting for the result of the test.
“The first violation is he did not undergo triage. Number two, he was tested but he travelled and exposed himself to others while waiting for the result,” she added.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson said the Oriental Mindoro incident should be investigated. He did not, however, state who or which agency should conduct the probe.
Speaking on radio DZBB, Lacson, who was a former PNP chief himself, said the incident was Sinas’ second infraction, the first being the “mañanita party” held during his birthday last year when Metro Manila and other areas was under lockdown to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
“I agree that he should be investigated because this is strike two already. The first was the mañanita party,” Lacson said.
He said Sinas should have learned his lesson after the controversy generated by last year’s birthday party in his honor.
MIMAROPA regional police director Brig. Gen. Pascual Muñoz defended Sinas from allegations that he violated protocols during his visit to the province last Thursday.
Sinas arrived at the MIMAROPA regional police headquarters in Calapan City for a command visit.
“Contrary to the circulating false information about the non- observance of the COVID-19 health protocols, Gen. Debold Sinas, chief, PNP, actually complied and accomplished more than what was required of him for his travel to Oriental Mindoro,” said Muñoz, adding that there are only two requirements for an Authorized Persons Outside Residence, which includes Sinas, to visit Calapan: online registration and confirmation message.
Muñoz said Sinas complied with the requirements “even before he arrived at Calapan airport.”
“By complying with the online registration, the City of Calapan was well informed of the impending visit and the receipt of the confirmation message means that his travel was allowed,” said Muñoz,
Muñoz said Sinas had himself tested on March 9 and the result showed he was free of the virus, thus was allowed to travel.
“On the day of his travel to Calapan City on March 11, 2021, he again had himself swabbed but this test was intended for his supposed subsequent itinerary to Palawan. When he learned of the positive result of his last RT-PCR in the afternoon of March 11, 2021, he immediately made the announcement as part of the COVID-19 health protocol and cut short his scheduled trip,” said Muñoz.
“He tried his very best to observe the highest safety standard possible even if he was legally allowed to exempt himself on some of the requirements based on the DILG Advisory dated February 1, 2021,” he added.
The DILG advisory says all government officials and personnel who are on official business shall be allowed unimpeded travel to their place of destination and shall not undergo mandatory testing or quarantine provided they comply with minimum health standards. – With Ashzel Hachero and Victor Reyes