Maj. Gen. Sinas should step down
Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas, the current director of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) is a member of PMA Class 1987. Among his prominent batchmates still in the service are Vice Admiral Giovanni Bacordo, Flag Officer in Command, Philippine Navy; Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, head of the Western Mindanao Command; and Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, PNP deputy chief operations. Prior to being designated as NCRPO chief, Sinas was police director for Central Visayas.
Last May 8, General Sinas marked his 55th birthday with a “mañanita,” tendered by fellow PNP officers. Photos on the NCRPO’s Facebook page showed him blowing out candles on a birthday cake, and socializing with a number of his colleagues at a buffet table. We must assume that Sinas was aware of the party that was organized for him. An event like this is usually with the knowledge of the celebrator, although he may feign ignorance. It does not come as a surprise as the organizers want to make sure the honoree is going to be around.
The “mañanita” that is sometimes observed in the Philippines is among Mexican traditions that came to us through the Galleon Trade between Manila and Acapulco, mainly during the 17th and 18th centuries. It is a birthday celebration that begins in the early morning hours by serenading the honoree with song followed by eating and drinking while the celebrator goes around exchanging greetings. It is a beautiful and meaningful tradition that expresses respect and affection for an individual.
Unfortunately, we live in difficult and demanding times. We have in our midst a mystery virus that strikes without warning, spreading disease that so far has no cure, often resulting in death and creating havoc in our society. We are experiencing a pandemic that calls for a high degree of discipline—wearing face masks, observing physical distancing, and avoiding any kind of unnecessary gathering. There are ordinances and laws that are in place aimed at limiting the damage caused by this new virus and our police units are in the forefront of efforts to safeguard the health and welfare of our people. Last week, we lost another member of our class. We would have wanted to give him a proper farewell but the situation would not allow for any kind of necrological services. We have decided to wait for better times.
Last Friday, General Sinas and 18 others faced criminal and administrative charges filed by the PNP Internal Affairs Service at the Taguig Prosecutor’s Office for violation of certain ordinances and laws in relation with the fight against COVID-19.
I do not know General Sinas personally and have never met him. Neither am I familiar with his service record but I assume that he would not have made it to where he is if he was not competent and deserving. We face an unprecedented national crisis that has resulted in much human suffering along with serious damage to our economy. We need to have full trust and confidence in our leaders especially those who are tasked to enforce the tough laws and restrictions that are being imposed on all of us for the good of the community. We expect that they will do so without fear or favor and that they will apply to themselves the strictest observance of those rules and regulations.
For a moment, let us set aside alleged violations of existing laws and ordinances. Let us focus on the plight of millions of our people, particularly daily wage earners who are unable to work for a living. Jobs have been shut down and even if work exists, public transport is not available. They are suffering. Scenes of people queueing for hours to receive their social amelioration program benefits — if they are lucky to be on the list — should remain in our thoughts. This is not the time for a mañanita or any kind of celebration. It is a time for compassion and empathy for the less fortunate among us.
As an elder from Fort Del Pilar, let me offer General Sinas some food for thought. Your apology would take on greater meaning if you step down from your position. Accept that you made a poor judgment call, showing insensitivity to the plight of our less fortunate. Don’t wait for higher authorities to decide your case. It takes courage and an inner strength to do the right thing. People will respect you and the institution you represent will be the better for the example you set.
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