MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has kept his distance from the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) summoning of Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto over the alleged breach of quarantine protocols, stressing that he does not meddle with the bureau’s operation.
In a surprise public address late Friday night, Duterte said he only dictates the government policy and it is up to the government enforcers to implement it.
“Wala akong pakialam sa operation ng NBI kung ano ang gusto nila. Karamihan diyan mga abogado yan,” Duterte said. (I have no business with the NBI operation, which can do anything necessary. Most of them there are lawyers.)
“Trabaho ng pulis yan ang akin policy sa taas,” he added. (That’s the job of the police. Mine is policy-making.)
Sotto recently drew the ire of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) when he supposedly allowed the limited operation of tricycles in his city to ferry health workers and patients with urgent needs to hospitals.
This is prohibited under the Luzon lockdown guidelines, which was imposed to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The DILG, however, said it already considered the issue as “case closed,” as the Pasig mayor has already complied.
Earlier, Duterte ordered local government units to “stand down” and let the national government call the shots after reports supposedly reached his office that some local officials “go beyond” the quarantine rules, with a warning that those who would “overdo things” would face administrative or even criminal charges.
The entire island of Luzon, home to about half of the country’s people, has been placed under a month-long lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which has infected 3,018 people in the country and killed 136 as of Friday afternoon.
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