Karapatan: With blood trail in Negros, dozens of HRVs, Sinas should be made accountable

As President Rodrigo Duterte made a statement in defense of Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas, the Metro Manila police chief who breached quarantine protocols for a birthday feté, human rights group Karapatan asserted that the top cop should be made accountable, saying he should have been investigated and relieved from post long before breaking quarantine policies because of the multiple human rights violations that were committed in Negros during his stint as Central Visayas police chief.

In his public address aired on Tuesday night, May 19, Duterte said Sinas will remain as Metro Manila police chief because the latter, according to him, is a “good officer and an honest one” and that “it was not his fault that there were people who serenaded him.”

“The pronouncements to shield Sinas from criticisms and to justify a decision to keep him as the top cop of the National Capital Region are preposterous as it does not only convey a dangerous message that promotes impunity, but most importantly because it reveals how this government, within its forces, is coddling perpetrators of human rights violations,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary-General.

Days before the President made his statement, Philippine National Police chief Archie Gamboa also said Sinas will remain in his post and that he is “hard to replace.” Meanwhile, Senator Panfilo Lacson, former police chief, appealed for little compassion and for the public to consider Sinas’ “long law-enforcement service and his share to keep Metro Manila safe from the virus.”

“There is no reason to spare Sinas from condemnation. With the trail of killings, illegal arrest and detention, and other criminal acts committed in the course of the implementation of the local synchronized enhanced management of police operations (SEMPO) in Negros, which were committed under his purview, he is in no way ‘good and honest.’ The most reasonable thing that the government should do is to relieve him from his post and to hold him accountable, along with the other perpetrators of human rights violations,” she said.

According to the Karapatan official, State terrorism has tormented the Negrenses, especially when Sinas took the helm as the regional police chief: “We would like to remind the regime that throughout the killings and other forms of human rights violations in Negros, no due process, including an independent investigation, had been done and until now, the victims and their families are still crying for justice. To coddle Sinas is to disregard the plight of those who have been victimized by this government’s militarist and fascist policies.”

“The way this government is treating Sinas, as well as the other known perpetrators of human rights violations, is truly outrageous. It shows us how this government neglects its primordial responsibility to prosecute human rights violators. The impunity of this regime should be denounced in the strongest terms as it now obviously scrambles to protect the corrupt killers it has nurtured since Duterte took office in 2016. We are enraged as the climate of impunity worsens while human rights violations surge in numbers. We call on all sectors of society to push back and resist against an outright disregard of the law and in serving justice to those who deserve it – the Filipinos who fell victims to this regime’s abuses.” Palabay said.