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NBI to continue probe of local officials violating Bayanihan law

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will continue its investigation of criminal offenses committed by local government officials in violation of the law giving President Rodrigo Duterte additional powers amid the COVID-19 crisis.

"Investigations of all criminal offenses, yes," Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a message to reporters. "Investigations of disciplinary cases, no jurisdiction."

Duterte has suspended disciplinary proceedings against government officials due to travel restrictions that came with community quarantines meant to arrest the spread of the infectious disease.

The suspension covers disciplinary cases filed against governors, provincial board members, mayors, vice mayors, city or town councilors and presidential appointees as well as other matters mandated by law, rules and regulations to be filed with the Office of the President.

Guevarra explained that the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act provides both administrative sanctions and criminal penalties for violators of its provisions.

"It specifically directs the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) to file administrative cases, and the DOJ (Department of Justice) to investigate (thru the NBI) and prosecute local gov't officials who willfully violate or contravene the mandatory provisions of the Bayanihan law," he said.

Republic Act No. 11469 penalizes "LGU officials disobeying national government policies or directives in imposing quarantines," among several other offenses.

Acts prohibited by this law are punishable by two months of imprisonment and/or a fine of P10,000 to P1 million.

As of last week, the NBI had invited Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto and two barangay captains in Las Piñas and Quezon City to explain their side on possible violations of the new law.

Sotto was invited to explain the operation of tricycles in his city despite the Luzon-wide suspension of public transportation.

He initially allowed tricycles to ply their routes, but eventually obeyed national authorities who told him to explore alternatives for ferrying frontliners to their workplaces. -NB, GMA News

Tags: covid-19, news, nation