Vico Sotto says it was NBI that ‘politicized’ alleged violation of Bayanihan Act
MANILA, Philippines — Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto on Thursday lashed back at National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Deputy Director Ferdinand Lavin for saying that the alleged violation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act had turned into a “politicized and sensationalized” issue.
“According to NBI Deputy Dir. Lavin, the issue has been ‘politicized and sensationalized.’ I agree,” Sotto said in a tweet.
“But with all due respect sir, pls stop and think why it reached this point: Side niyo ang nag leak ng copy ng sulat sa reporter. Nagpa-receive tao niyo sa opis ko, may kasama pang media (It was your side that leaked a copy of the letter to a reporter. You ordered one of your staffers to have the letter received in my office. That staffer brought the media along),” he added.
Sotto made the remark after Lavin said in a television interview that the matter is within the powers of the NBI and that Sotto was not being singled out.
“Again, hindi lang ito kay (this is not just for) Mayor Sotto. Medyo na-politicize lang, na sensationalize yung kay Mayor Sotto (The issue on Mayor Sotto was just somehow politicized and sensationalized),” NBI Deputy Director Ferdinand Lavin was quoted as saying.
A day before, the NBI said it has launched an investigation on Sotto for possible violations of the Bayanihan to Heal as One law by the Pasig City government. The law gives President Rodrigo Duterte additional powers to address the crisis that was triggered by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Through a letter, Sotto was asked by the NBI to explain why he should not be charged for violating the Bayanihan law. The NBI cited Section 6A of the Act, which penalizes officials of local governments units disobeying national government policies or directives in imposing the quarantine order.
In the letter, the NBI said the Pasig City government violated the Bayanihan law by allowing the “continuous tricycle operations” in the city despite the ban on public transport during the quarantine period as ordered by the national government.
Sotto earlier allowed tricycles to operate in Pasig City for those exempted in the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine, citing the need to provide transportation access to health workers and those in need of urgent medical attention.
The neophyte mayor, however, stressed that he followed the quarantine directive and pointed out that President Rodrigo Duterte signed the law on March 24, or several days after he already complied with the ban covering tricycle operations.
The Department of Justice said penal provisions under the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act cannot be applied retroactively.
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