PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte won’t sack his National Capital Region police chief even after he was caught violating lockdown rules amid a coronavirus pandemic.

In a taped address aired on Tuesday night, the President said Metro Manila police chief Debold M. Sinas is a “good and honest man” and should not be fired because people threw him a birthday celebration.

“He is a good officer, he’s an honest one, and it’s not his fault someone serenaded him on his birthday,” Mr. Duterte said.

Police filed criminal charges against the Metro Manila police chief last week after he and about 50 policemen were seen breaking quarantine rules during his birthday celebration.

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

Presidential spokesman Harry L. Roque on Tuesday said the palace would wait for the results of an internal police probe before deciding on the fate of Mr. Sinas and his well-wishers.

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

Mr. Sinas has denied violating lockdown rules, adding that packed food was served at the event.

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra last week said the National Bureau of Investigation would probe the incident, adding that state agents must “enforce the laws fairly.” — Gillian M. Cortez