Wed. Sep 22nd, 2021

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has vehemently denied that he had a hand in the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) recent move to summon Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto for supposedly violating the quarantine protocols imposed by the national government in Luzon.

Addressing the nation late Friday night, Duterte said he does not meddle in the NBI’s affairs, including its actions against individuals who may be found violating the laws.

“Wala akong pakialam sa operation ng NBI kung anong gusto nila. Karamihan diyan mga abugado iyan (I don’t interfere in the operations of NBI or in whatever actions they do. Most of the NBI personnel are lawyers),” he said in a speech aired on state-run PTV-4.

Duterte issued the clarification after the NBI invited Sotto to appear at its main office in Manila on April 7 to respond to allegations that he violated Republic Act (RA) 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act that was passed on March 24 to address the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak in the country.

The President said his only order to local officials like Sotto was to let the Department of Social Welfare and Development lead the distribution of emergency subsidies to poor households affected by the health crisis.

“Ngayon yung kay Mayor Vico, isang beses lang ako nagsalita. Yung pag-proclaim ko ng emergency. Sabi ko, huwag ito, huwag doon. Pagkatapos nito, wala na. Nandito lang ako (Now, on Mayor Vico’s issue, I only spoke about local governments once. It’s about my proclamation on the emergency subsidies. After that, I have done nothing. I’m just here),” he said. “Ang akin, policy sa taas. Ito, huwag ninyong gawin. Ito, gawin mo (I only make policies. I only direct what needs to be done and what should not be done).”

Sotto was criticized last month for allowing the use of tricycles in Pasig City to help bring health workers and patients to hospitals, despite the ban on mass public transport due to the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.

Section 6 of RA 11469 imposes penalties on local officials “disobeying national government policies or directives in imposing quarantines.”

Prior to the signing of the new law, Sotto suspended the operations of tricycles and instead ordered the use of the Pasig City government’s vehicles to transport medical workers and patients.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra explained on Wednesday that the penal provisions of RA 11469 are not applied retroactively, “unless the offense is a continuing crime and its commission has not been stopped.”

Guevarra said he would let the NBI decide on the legality of carrying out a fact-finding investigation into Sotto’s supposed violations.

Duterte said he would leave it to the authorities the exercise of power to arrest violators.

“Hindi ako. Trabaho ng pulis iyan. At ang mag-enforce niyan, police at military. Wala na akong pakialam sinong mahuli (It’s not my job. That’s the job of the police. The police and the military will be the ones to enforce it. I don’t care about who will get arrested),” he said. (PNA)

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