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VP Robredo slams 'over centralized' response to COVID-19 emergency

Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday took a dig on the government's "too centralized" response for the COVID-19 threat, depriving local government units enough chance to decide on their own, especially on matters cropping up in their localities.

In an interview on ANC, Robredo said, “Hindi lang support, pero sapat na elbow room para sa  local officials para gawin ‘yung tingin nila nararapat sa kanilang jurisdiction. ‘Yung strong LGUs ang makapagbibigay ng progress sa bansa."

She cited Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto's brush with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), over a complaint on his decision to allow tricycles to operate despite tight enforcement of social distancing measures.


Robredo found the NBI's move against Mayor Sotto unacceptable.

NBI Deputy Director and spokesman Ferdinand Lavin confirmed that the anti-graft division sent Mayor Sotto a letter inviting him to appear at the NBI's main office in Manila on April 7.

Lavin said when asked what Sotto's violation, "For LGU officials for disobeying national government policies or directives in imposing quarantines under the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act."

Sotto, who allowed tricycles in Pasig City to ply their routes to transport health workers and emergency patients to hospitals, asked the national government to exempt tricycles from the ban.

But, Sotto eventually complied with the directive of the national government as regards the quarantine.

Robredo said, “Unacceptable siya kasi unang-una ‘yung mensahe ng pangulo noong umpisa pa, pinapasa sa local government units ‘yung pagaasikaso sa kanilang jurisdiction.”

She pointed out that local officials like Vico Sotto should be appreciated for their creativity and innovation in finding solution in their areas of jurisdiction.

“Ang local government units kailangan ina-appreciate natin, yung local officials na nag-i-innovate, na creative sa solusyong pinapakita, na inaasikaso ang kaniyang mga tao,” Robredo said.

Earlier, a commissioner from the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) had asked the NBI to investigate Robredo over her relief drive that allegedly undermined efforts of the national government amid the COVID-19 crisis.

PACC Commissioner Manuelito Luna wanted a probe of Robredo’s “illegal solicitations, actions that compete with, or calculated to undermine national government efforts in this time of public health emergency or national calamity.”

President Rodrigo Duterte last Friday fired Luna, and praised Robredo's moves to solicit aid to help frontliners battling the spread of the novel coronavirus.

"Tama yan maghingi ka ng tulong sa kapwa mo tao," Duterte said. —Joviland Rita/LBG, GMA News