MANILA — Sen. Leila de Lima on Thursday said that "for the sake of its institutional integrity," the National Bureau of Investigation "should just drop" its action against Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto over his alleged violation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One law.
"NBI sounds pathetic in trying to explain their action... Pilit na pilit. Ano ba yan, NBI?" de Lima, a former Justice secretary, said in a statement.
The NBI on Wednesday summoned Sotto for an explanation on his alleged violation of the quarantine protocol set by the national government, specifically the ban on public transportation.
The move was met with criticism, with some lawmakers and netizens saying the investigation was ill-timed considering the lingering crisis.
According to De Lima, the "indignation" was "quite justified" as "there is no case here."
"Didn’t the Mayor promptly comply when the national authorities put their foot down on the issue, re: tricycles? Mantakin ninyo: Pagpaliwanagin ba naman si Mayor Vico sa paglabag sa batas na hindi pa naman noon ipinatutupad?"
"NBI is defending an indefensible position," she said.
Sotto had pointed out that he complied with the tricycle ban on March 19, a few days before lawmakers passed the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act that gave President Rodrigo Duterte special powers for the coronavirus response.
The law cannot be applied retroactively against the mayor, said some senators, including his uncle, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, who authored the measure.
De Lima has been detained at the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame in Quezon City since February 2017 on drug charges that she dismiss as political persecution.
Also a former head of the country's human rights commission, de Lima is a vocal critic of the Duterte administration.