DILG chief says Vico Sotto did not violate Bayanihan law as mayor faces NBI probe


Posted at Apr 02 2020 06:42 PM

MANILA - Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Thursday he sees no violation committed by Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto for seeking to allow the use of tricycles amid the lockdown in Luzon to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

This after the National Bureau of Investigation summoned Sotto over such alleged violation of the recently passed Bayanihan to Heal As One Law, which gives President Rodrigo Duterte additional powers to address the COVID-19 crisis. 

"Para sa akin, wala naman siyang violation doon dahil noong nalaman niya na hindi pinayagan, hindi naman siya tumuloy," Año told ABS-CBN News.

(For me, he has no violation because when he learned that it was not allowed, he did not push through with it.)

Año was referring to Sotto's rejection of the ban on tricycles in Pasig despite the government's directive to suspend all public transport in Luzon under lockdown guidelines.

Sotto later relented when told he has to comply and found alternative means to provide transport to health workers and residents with emergency needs. 

Año also said he believes Sotto can explain and defend himself should the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) file charges against him.

"Ako naman naniniwala na (I believe) Mayor Vico can fully explain and defend himself if ever there is a charge against him," he said.

Sotto earlier said it was not illegal to give his opinion and that he complied with the directive on a transport ban under the lockdown. He also pointed out that the Bayanihan law was enacted days after the matter was already resolved. 

Several lawmakers, celebrities and netizens hit the NBI for the investigation, saying the mayor did not violate any law. 

The Department of Justice, the NBI's mother agency, also said the Bayanihan law may not be invoked to penalize an act that happened before it was enacted.

- with a report from Jeff Canoy, ABS-CBN