THE National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will probe the birthday celebration of a high-ranking police official amid a lockdown in Metro Manila because of a coronavirus pandemic, Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said on Wednesday.

“I will ask the NBI to look into this,” he said in a mobile-phone message, referring to Metro Manila police chief Debold M. Sinas’s birthday celebration last week, photos of which circulated online.

Mass gatherings are prohibited and physical distancing must be observed during the pandemic.

“There is already an existing order to the NBI to investigate violations of quarantine protocols,” Mr. Guevarra said.

He also said he has always advised state agents “to enforce the laws fairly and uniformly.”

Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año called the event “uncalled for,” adding that government officials should observe “delicadeza.”

Mr. Año, who supervises the police, said he would leave it up to the Philippine National Police (PNP) to investigate the event and find out if violations had been committed.

The PNP in a statement said police chief General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa had ordered the inspector general of the Internal Affairs Service to investigate alleged violations of quarantine protocols.

Mr. Sinas has issued an apology, saying it was a “traditional mañanita” conducted by some officers and the accommodation was done “with all cautiousness.”

“I apologize for what transpired during my birthday that caused anxiety to the public,” he said in a statement. “It was never my intention to disobey any existing protocols relative to the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine.” — Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Gillian M. Cortez