Residents wearing facemasks walk past a roadblock with awarenesses signs after the government imposed an enhanced quarantine as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in Manila on March 25, 2020.
AFP/Ted Aljibe
NBI looks into LGU quarantine 'violations' after Congress told investigations underway
Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - April 1, 2020 - 3:12pm

MANILA, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation has started preparing investigations into local government officials who may have violated quarantine guidelines, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte reported to the Congress that those probes are already underway.

In the first of his weekly reports to the Congress, Duterte said that the “NBI is investigating and filing charges against local government officials who wilfully disregard, contravene, or violate national guidelines on community quarantine.”

The president noted that Section 4(g) of Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One act authorizes him to “ensure that all LGUs are acting within the letter and spirit of all the rules, regulations and directives issued by the National Government.”

NBI Deputy Director Ferdinand Lavin, also the bureau’s spokesperson, said that NBI Director Eric Distor mobilized bureau agents to look into possible violations of LGU officials only on March 31, Tuesday.

"Director Distor ordered last March 31 all the operating units of NBI to conduct investigations on possible violations of the community quarantine," Lavin told reporters in a message.

Lavin also said the bureau still has no data on the possible case since “agents are still in the field.”

The NBI however had been continuously conducting investigations and filing complaints against profiteers, hoarders of essential goods and commodities, prior to Duterte’s report.

“We also continue to investigate those involved in the proliferation of fake news concerning COVID and the related issues,” Lavin added.

RA 11469 punishes those who create, perpetrate or spread false information amid state of emergency.

READ: Transparency needed in COVID-19 fight, not penalties for 'false info', groups say

'No complaint needed'

Duterte in a public address that aired past 1 a.m. of March 20 warned local officials who will disregard national government guidelines on the enhanced community quarantine.

In looking into possible violations of these local officials, the NBI has been acting even if no formal complaints are filed.

Lavin explained there is no need for a complaint because “the director already ordered the agents to conduct the investigations.”

In the case of Sen. Koko Pimentel who breached quarantine protocols, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the department will determine “whether a motu propio (on its own initiative) investigation by the NBI would still be necessary.”

This was after Makati Medical Center denounced Pimentel’s breach of containment protocols when he brought his wife to the hospital while he was waiting for the results of his COVID-19 test.

Pimentel has since apologized for his actions, while a lawyer said last week that they are readying complaints to be filed against the lawmaker.  

READ: Lawyer readies complaint vs Pimentel for breaching quarantine protocol

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
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