NBI summons Vico Sotto for violation of Bayanihan Act 

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    Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto. (Photo from Facebook)

    PASIG City Mayor Vico Sotto has been summoned to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on April 7 to explain why he should not be sanctioned for violating quarantine guidelines set by the government.

    NBI Deputy Director Ferdinand Lavin said the bureau’s anti-graft division has sent a letter to Sotto directing him to defend his decision to allow the continued operation of tricycles in his jurisdiction, despite the suspension of mass transportation following the imposition of a Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine starting March 17.

    Lavin said Sotto’s act was a possible violation of the Bayanihan We Heal as One Act “for disobeying national government policies and directives in imposing quarantines.”

    Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Sotto cannot be held liable under the Bayanihan Act because the law cannot be applied retroactively.

    “The penal provisions of any law, including Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, are not applied retroactively unless the offense is a continuing one and its commission has not been stopped,” Guevarra said.

    Guevarra said the DOJ had nothing to do with the letter sent to Sotto.

    “There is no such letter addressed specifically to Mayor Vico Sotto coming from the DOJ but pursuant to the President’s instruction, the DOJ has directed the NBI to monitor the action of all LGU officials and investigate any violation or contravention of the guidelines set by the IATF such as on the unhampered flow of essential goods and movement of persons exempted from the lockdown,” Guevarra said.

    President Duterte has told local officials to follow the directives of the national government and to stand down after reports came out that some local executives have “(gone) beyond the quarantine rules.” Duterte said these officials could face administrative or even criminal cases if they “overdo” things.

    Sotto has been getting the heat from the national government after he insisted

    on going his own way to help his constituents cope with the lockdown, which was implemented to contain, if not stop, the speedy spread of the novel coronavirus.

    He has defied the suspension of public transportation in Metro Manila, and has instead allowed the limited operation of tricycles to ferry health workers and patients with immediate health needs. He appealed to the DILG to exempt tricycles from the public transport ban.

    His appeal has been shot down by the DILG.