MANILA — Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto admitted Wednesday he was "shocked" over the National Bureau of Investigation's (NBI) move to investigate him over alleged violation of quarantine protocols amid the coronavirus crisis.
"Medyo nagulat lang po sa NBI," Sotto told ABS-CBN News' TV Patrol.
(I was surprised at the NBI.)
The NBI, through a letter, has asked Sotto to explain why he should not be charged for allegedly violating the newly-enacted Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, the measure that gives Malacañang additional powers to address the coronavirus crisis.
The NBI identified "continuous tricycle operations" as Sotto's possible violation. He was asked to provide evidence to dispute the claims.
The letter, dated April 1, asked Vico to send a representative to the Bureau on April 7.
While Sotto said he would comply with the NBI's directive, he said he would likewise ask the agency to specify what particular violation he allegedly committed.
"Kami po ay sasagot don sa sulat ng NBI. Pero tatanungin ko rin sa kanila kung ano 'yung mga acts na ina-allege nila. Pati dun sa sulat hindi naman po [malinaw] 'yung sinasabi nila... Mayroon bang ina-allege sila na nilabag ng Pasig sa orders ng IATF?" Sotto said, referring to the Inter-Agency Task Force on the coronavirus response.
(We will answer the letter of the NBI. But I will ask them the acts they are alleging. In the letter, what they're saying is unclear... Are they alleging that Pasig violated orders of the IATF?)
Sotto reiterated that Pasig complied with the suspension of public transportation as soon as the Department of the Interior and Local Government rejected his plea to exempt tricycles from the ban.
Sotto had asked the national government to allow tricycles to ferry frontline health workers and those with medical emergencies.
"Nung sinabi po sa'min na bawal, we complied immediately. Ako po ay nag-appeal, di sila pumayag, OK lang opo 'yun sa'kin," said Sotto.
(When we were told it's not allowed, we complied immediately. I made an appeal, they did not agree, that's OK with me.)
As reports on the NBI summon broke, netizens took to social media to protest the agency's act, sending the hashtag #ProtectVico to the top spot of worldwide trending topics on Twitter.
In the wake of the NBI's investigation, Sotto assured his constituents that Pasig's services will remain unhampered amid the Luzon lockdown.
The young mayor, who is on his first term in office after toppling a political dynasty in Pasig, has been drawing raves for his city's response to the COVID-19 crisis.
"Sa mga kapwa ko po Pasigueño, 'wag niyo na po intindihin 'yung politika o ano, basta ang lokal na pamahalaan ng Pasig ay ginagawa po ang lahat natin."
(To my fellow Pasigueños, don't mind the politicking, your local government is doing everything.)