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Vico Sotto questions NBI order to explain alleged violation of COVID-19 response act

Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto has questioned the allegation that he violated the law giving President Rodrigo Duterte additional powers to respond to the threat of COVID.

In a tweet, Sotto said he was being asked to explain an alleged violation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act such as the continued operation of tricycles.

"We complied with all directives. Hindi po illegal magbigay ng opinyon," Sotto said in reaction to the National Bureau of Investigation communication asking him for an explanation.

"Alam kaya nila na March 24 naging batas ang Bayanihan Act?" he added.

Sotto during the early days of the enhanced community quarantine allowed the use of tricycles in Pasig City to ferry health workers to the hospitals.

Tricycles were among the modes of public transportation that were banned when the community quarantine was declared in Luzon.

He, however, stopped the practice after the Department of Interior and Local Government said it could not be allowed.

The COVID-19 response act was passed days after Sotto decided to comply with the national directive.

Sotto pointed this out in an interview with reporters, saying the law did not exist at the time of the tricycle issue. Even then, he said, he eventually complied with the national government's instruction.


He said the letter did not specify the alleged acts committed. He also said he had been asked about the letter before it was served on him.

"Pero ang mas nakapagtataka, bago pa dumating yung sulat, meron nang member of the media na nagtetext sakin, nagtatanong tungkol sa sulat, kaya medyo weird," he said.

According to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, "penal provisions of any law are not applied retroactively unless the offense is a continuing one and its commission has not been stopped."

Applying a law retroactively means applying it on acts committed even before the law was in effect.

The NBI asked Sotto to appear at the bureau's main office in Manila on April 7.

In his first report to Congress pursuant to the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, Duterte said the NBI is investigating local government officials who "willfully disregard, contravene, or violate" the community quarantine guidelines set by the national government.

NBI Director Eric Distor ordered agents to conduct investigations on March 31.

Local officials disobeying national government policies or directives in imposing quarantines is a prohibited act under the law and is punishable by two months of imprisonment and/or a fine of P10,000 to P1 million.

Public officials may also suffer perpetual or temporary absolute disqualification from office, according to the law. —NB/LDF, GMA News