MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte distanced himself from the probe on Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), saying he's only concerned about matters at the national level.
"Yung kay Mayor Vico, isang beses lang ako nagsalita, yung nagproclaim ako ng [state of] emergency. Sabi ko, 'wag ito, wag yan,'" he said during a public address Friday.
(On Mayor Vico Sotto, I only spoke once, when I proclaimed [state of] emergency. I said, 'don't do this, don't do that.')
"Pagkatapos nito, wala na, nandito lang ako. Wala akong pakialam sa operation ng NBI, kung anong gusto nila. Karamihan diyan mga abogado yan," he said.
(After that, I didn't say anything anymore, I was just here. I don't care about the operation of NBI, about what they want. Most of them are lawyers.)
The NBI earlier claimed Sotto may have violated provisions in the Bayanihan Act when he allowed tricycles to operate in his jurisdiction despite a ban on public transportation, but lawmakers underscored that the policy was not yet even drafted at the time three-wheeled vehicles in Pasig were allowed to bring some patients to hospitals.
The bureau drew flak after netizens castigated the agency for going after a "well-performing" mayor who was finding ways to address the coronavirus crisis in his city.
The hashtag #ProtectVico soared as the top worldwide trend on Twitter after celebrities and influencers joined the public outcry against the NBI's probe against the Pasig City mayor.
The NBI denied allegations of persecuting Sotto, saying some individuals "politicized" and "sensationalized" its investigation of Sotto's possible violation.
Sotto, however, said the agency was the one who allowed the media to cover the issue.