- Vico Sotto is required to submit his explanations to the NBI
- Sotto said that they complied with all the directives
On Wednesday, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) summoned Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto for possible violation of Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
The “invitation letter” sent to Sotto was for him to explain his side on the allegation that he disobeyed the national government policy in imposing the community quarantine due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak according to the NBI Deputy Director Ferdinand Lavin.
If found guilty, he may be meted with two months imprisonment or a fine of not less than ₱10,000.00 but not more than ₱1-million or both at the discretion of the court.
Sotto initially allowed tricycles to operate despite the suspension of public transportation to help the frontliners to travel and report to their stations.
When the NBI was asked why they focused on local government officials alone instead of helping the police on quarantine violators, Lavin said, “The President’s order was to investigate the local government officials who are implementing the enhanced community quarantine.”
President Rodrigo Duterte ordered local government units to “stand down” after reports supposedly reached his office that some local officials “go beyond” the quarantine rules and let the national government be in charge. He also warned that those who would “overdo things” will face administrative or criminal charges.
The NBI’s Anti-Graft Division summoned the Pasig City Mayor and requiring him to submit his explanation on April 1 to the NBI.
The Mayor posted on his reaction on Twitter that they complied with all the directives and that it’s not illegal to give an opinion.
They're asking for an "explanation on the alleged violation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (e.g. continuous tricycle operation)"
We complied with all directives. Hindi po illegal magbigay ng opinyon.
…at alam kaya nila na March 24 naging batas ang Bayanihan Act? https://t.co/PY4LzZDf8y
— Vico Sotto (@VicoSotto) April 1, 2020
Celebrities, netizens and even some public officials took the side of Mayor Vico and believed that he is one of the few government officials who cares about his people.
Si Koko Pimentel who violated RA 11332, di hinuli. Si Mayor Vico Sotto who is serving his people out of compassion sinita. Remember Hunger Games? The way Pres. Snow saw Katniss Everdeen is the way Duterte sees Vico Sotto. A hope for the people. A threat to his power. #ProtectVico pic.twitter.com/5XP81Nh33b
— James Vitaliano (@jamesvitaliano) April 1, 2020
I think people are not protecting Mayor Vico Sotto because he is Vico Sotto. I think he is protected by many because he's one of the few government officials who really care about the people. Konti na nga sila, putangina gagaguhin nyo pa at susubukang hilahin pababa.
— blair (@wthmjj) April 1, 2020
National Government: "We'll investigate Vico Sotto for possible violations of the Bayanihan Act."
Every Filipino with a brain: pic.twitter.com/9sJWK51OS7
— Carlo Ang (@JohnCharlesThe) April 1, 2020
— DEPRESSING TRUTHS (@dpressingtruths) April 1, 2020
Meanwhile, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said that he sees no violation committed by the Pasig City Mayor for seeking to allow the use of tricycles amid the lockdown in Luzon to prevent the spread of COVID-19. “Para sa akin, wala naman siyang violation doon dahil noong nalaman niya na hindi pinayagan, hindi naman siya tumuloy. Ako naman naniniwala na Mayor Vico can fully explain and defend himself if ever there is a charge against him,” he said.