Lacson urges netizens: Stop sowing hatred against NCRPO chief over ECQ birthday get-together

Robie de Guzman   •   May 15, 2020   •   406

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Friday appealed to some social media users to stop sowing hatred towards Metro Manila’s police chief who was embroiled in controversy after allegedly violating quarantine protocols during a “mañanita” held for his birthday last week.

Lacson said National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Major General Debold Sinas has already “apologized and regretted his indiscretion,” and that he has been “bashed, criticized and pilloried both on social media and mainstream media” for the incident.

“Whichever way one looks at it, NCRPO chief Police Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas set a bad example in committing what he did during his birthday ‘mañanita’ or whatever he wants to call it,” he said in a statement.

“Certainly, he should get the punishment he deserves even as the appropriate authorities are already investigating him,” he added.

“However, we may also want to take into consideration his long law-enforcement service to the country and the Filipino people, and his present efforts in supervising the checkpoints all over Metro Manila to make us safe from the coronavirus threat,” he further stated.

But Lacson clarified that his statement is “not to suggest forgiveness or absolution” for Sinas.

“Rather, it is an appeal to concerned netizens not to rub salt to injury by going to the extent of posting out-of-date photos to sow more hatred towards Sinas by exploiting the naïveté of certain individuals to join the bandwagon of hate towards the police officer,” he said.

Sinas earlier apologized for what transpired during his birthday, saying he did not intend to disobey protocols related to the implementation of the ECQ to contain the spread of COVID-19.

He also said that some of the photos circulating online were “edited and grabbed from old posts” and do not define the totality of what really happened.

The photos, earlier posted on the NCRPO Facebook page, showed Sinas handing cakes and roses during the event. A photo also showed Sinas sitting at a table with guests.

The photos were said to be taken during a party held for Sinas to celebrate his birthday. Police officers gave him a mañanita, a traditional early morning serenade, where they dine together.

The said event was met with criticism for allegedly breaking quarantine rules.

Philippine National Police chief General Archie Gamboa said he already ordered a probe into the incident.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año also said that Sinas, as a police official, should serve as an example in following protocols especially those related to the containment of COVID-19.

MGCQ not yet possible in NCR – Malacañang

Marje Pelayo   •   July 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Community quarantine measures may not be relaxed yet in the National Capital Region (NCR), according to National Task Force against COVID-19 Chief Implementer Sec. Carlito Galvez.

Galvez said areas with high cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are likely to remain under general community quarantine (GCQ) if the situation will not improve.

He noted the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in the NCR and the region’s hospital occupancy has already reached 70% in the past five days.

On July 15, the existing community quarantine measures across the country will lapse and President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to announce the government’s decision as to which quarantine restriction should the NCR be placed beginning July 16.

However, Malacañang said the numbers cannot yet justify Metro Manila’s shift from GCQ to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ). 

“Datos po ang tinitingnan natin. Kung tayo po ay magluluwag, siguro po at this point, the data does not indicate na pwedeng magluwag at least sa Metro Manila, para lang po to manage expectations [We are looking into data. If we are to ease (restrictions) at this point, the data does not indicate that we can ease at least in Metro Manila, just to manage expectations],” explained Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

Galvez also stressed that even Metro Manila mayors recommended retaining the GCQ in their respective areas or implementing hybrid status which means opening all businesses while observing safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Galvez noted, however, that there are other areas where stricter quarantine restrictions will be imposed starting July 16. 

Mayroon pong nag-escalate, at mga area na ito ay nakita nating nagkaroon ng new cases at spikes [There are areas that escalated. And these areas are where new cases and spikes were reported],” Galvez concluded. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Metro Manila may revert to ECQ if COVID-19 situation worsens — Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   July 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Metro Manila may return to stricter enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) if the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation worsens in the capital region.

In a televised press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the government may possibly reimpose ECQ on Metro Manila if hospitals in the region hit maximum capacity due to surge in COVID-19 cases.

“Pag lumala talaga, at mawalan tayo ng critical care capacity o di kaya ay case doubling rate ay bumalik sa dati na napakabilis, wala po tayong alternatibo,” he said.

“Yun nga po ang pinapakiusap sa ating kababayan, pag tayo bumalik sa mas estriktong quarantine, baka wala na po tayong hanapbuhay na pwedeng gawin,” he added.

Roque issued the statement after the country recorded a record-high 2,434 additional cases on Sunday, bringing the total cases to 44,254. Most of these infections were reported in Metro Manila.

Metro Manila is currently under general community quarantine where public transport and some business sectors have been allowed to resume operations at a limited capacity.

It was previously placed under ECQ for more than two months.

The Department of Health earlier said that the spike in infections was due to increased physical contact of the public following the easing of quarantine restrictions.

But Roque said the government had no choice but to loosen the quarantine measures in order to revitalize the economy.

“Wala naman tayong alternatibo kundi magbukas ng ekonomiya… Kung di pa po natin mabubuksan, mamya buhay nga tayo, mamatay naman tayo dahil wala tayong hanapbuhay,” he said.

The Palace official, meanwhile, belied reports that hospitals in Metro Manila have reached full capacity amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Roque said that as of July 5, Metro Manila’s critical care utilization is still at 63 percent or moderate risk level.

He also clarified that many hospitals have yet to breach the 30 percent hospital bed capacity for coronavirus patients.

“Nililinaw po namin na yung mga kumakalat na fake news na ubos na raw po ang hospital beds sa ating mga ospital, di po yan totoo,” he said.

Roque also revealed that Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega has been designated to head the Hospital One Incident Command which will determine the critical care utilization and hospital care capacity rate. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Several senators laud signing of Anti-Terror Act despite oppositions

Robie de Guzman   •   July 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Several senators have lauded President Rodrigo Duterte for signing the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 despite oppositions coming from different sectors.

“Much credit goes to PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte). With all the pressure coming from different directions against the signing of the Anti-Terrorism Bill into law, at the end of the day, it is his strong political will that mattered the most,” Senator Panfilo Lacson said in a statement Friday.

“I cannot imagine this measure being signed under another administration. If only for this, I take my hat off to the president,” he added.

Lacson, one of the principal authors and sponsor of the measure in the Senate, vowed that he would “exert extra effort in guarding against possible abuse in its implementation, notwithstanding all the safeguards incorporated in this landmark legislation.”

Senate President Vicente Sotto III also expressed elation over the enactment of the controversial bill.

“I am glad that the president has sifted through the rubble and saw the importance of the law!” he said in a message to reporters.

Senator Francis Tolentino also called the signing of the law as “very timely” and “historic” as the nation needed the measure.

“It just goes to show that a stable peace and order climate should go hand [in hand] with economic rejuvenation post COVID-19,” he added.

The new law repeals the Human Security Act of 2007 and penalizes those who will propose, incite, conspire, participate in the planning, training, preparation and facilitation of a terrorist act; as well as those who will provide material support to terrorists, and recruit members in a terrorist organization.

The measure allows suspected terrorists to be detained for up to 24 days without warrant. It also authorizes the Anti-Money Laundering Council to freeze the assets and accounts of individuals or groups tagged as terrorists.

Before it was enacted, the bill was met with widespread opposition from different groups who raised concern over its provisions that could be abused by authorities, stifle dissent and spur human rights violations.

But Sotto said the law has enough safeguards to prevent enforcers from abusing their authority.

“It’s full of safeguards but strong against terrorists. Unlike the old law, it was subject to abuse by the terrorists,” Sotto said.

Lacson has repeatedly defended the measure, saying it has enough protection to ensure the rights of those detained.

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