MANILA, Philippines – Senators on Wednesday blasted the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for summoning Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto over his alleged violation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
The NBI on Tuesday summoned Sotto, saying he violated the law when he allowed tricycles to operate in his jurisdiction despite the suspension of public transport operations during the enhanced community quarantine period in Luzon.
Senator Francis Pangilinan, in a statement, said Sotto did not violate the law when he allowed the operation of “improvised tricycles” before March 18.
“Paano nilabag ni Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto ang batas na hindi pa batas? Ginamit ang mga improvised tricycle bago mag-March 18. Umapela, tinanggihan, at sumunod sa utos si Mayor Vico March 19,” he said.
“Naging batas ang Bayanihan to Act Heal as One Act (Special Powers Act) noong March 24,” he added.
Senator Risa Hontiveros also slammed the NBI for bringing “hostile attention” to “well-performing leaders” amid the crisis on novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“Andaming kailangang bigyna ng solusyon: nagkakasakit na health workers, mga nagugutom. Why hostile attention to well-performing leaders like Vico?” she wrote on her Twitter account.
“The Bayanihan Law cannot be applied retroactively, and doesn’t suspend the right to dissent or express views. May na-insecure ba?” she added.
Senator Joel Villanueva also questioned the NBI’s move, saying that as far as he is concerned, the mayor has the “best practices” that other local government units “started to emulate nationwide.”
Villanueva also said that Sotto’s ideas to combat the spread of COVID-19 threat “make sense.”
“So, our question is do we really need this notice right now when we want our local government officials to mobilize all the resources they have to respond to their constituents’ needs? We have an urgent task at hand, and distractions such as this don’t help,” he tweeted.
Mayor Sotto was earlier lauded for coming up with solutions to address the COVID-19 crisis in his jurisdiction.
Among the city’s notable responses was the deployment of market-on-wheels, mobile kitchens and portable disinfection facilities.
According to Mayor Sotto, he is ready to respond to the NBI summon.
“Handa po kami kasi wala naman kaming tinatago,” he said.