MANILA, Philippines — The order given by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto to answer alleged violations of the government’s quarantine protocols is a “useless political distraction” during the COVID-19 crisis, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said Thursday.
“This is just my personal opinion, I think this act of summoning of Mayor of Pasig is a useless political distraction at this time when all of us are preparing to beat the COVID crisis that we are in right now,” Malaya told CNN Philippines’ The Source when asked about the NBI letter sent to Sotto.
Malaya also defended Sotto, saying the mayor eventually complied with the government directive to ban tricycles during the mass public transport suspension under the enhanced community quarantine period guidelines covering Luzon.
“The mayor of Pasig was already cooperative. At one time, he did allow the tricycles to operate in Pasig and upon the request of the DILG, he cooperated. There is really no issue on in so far the DILG is concerned now,” he said.
“We were also surprised when we heard the NBI has summoned Mayor Vico Sotto,” the DILG official added.
On Wednesday night, the NBI confirmed that it sent an invitation letter to Sotto, which directed the mayor to give an explanation on the alleged violation of the newly-signed Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
DOJ does not support NBI letter
Malaya also said that even Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra does not support the NBI’s action as Sotto’s alleged violation – allowing tricycles to operate in Pasig — was committed before the law was signed.
“When this story came out, I immediately talked to our colleagues from the Department of Justice (DOJ). Sec Guevarra made the clarification, clearly stating that he does not support the action of NBI because on the basis of this alleged violation of the Bayanihan Act, was done prior to the passage of the Bayanihan Act,” Malaya said.
“I think it is very clear already on where the DOJ stands,” he added.
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