This April 1, 2020 photo shows a vehicle that Pasig City uses to ferry patients to and from medical appointments.
Vico Sotto Facebook page
NBI insists there are 'continuous tricycle operations' in Pasig
( - April 2, 2020 - 3:41pm

MANILA, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation is operating on the theory that Pasig City continues to allow the operation of tricycles, which would violate the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, despite Mayor Vico Sotto and the Department of the Interior and Local Government’s statements that tricycle operations have long been suspended.

NBI Deputy Director Ferdinand Lavin told "Dobol B sa News TV" on Thursday that the bureau is aware that Republic Act 11469's penal provisions cannot be applied retroactively.

But he pointed out that the bureau’s letter to Sotto “clearly states continuous tricycle operations, so even after the law was enacted, our division’s investigations has holding,” Lavin said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Lavin, who is also the NBI spokesperson, explained that while he is not privy to the details of the issue, he would “like to believe that they won’t issue a letter” if the matter has been resolved already.

NBI probe of LGU officials

President Rodrigo Duterte, in his report to Congress, said the “NBI is investigating and filing charges against local government officials who wilfully disregard, contravene, or violate national guidelines on community quarantine.”

READ: NBI looks into LGU quarantine 'violations' after Congress told investigations underway

NBI Director Eric Distor mobilized agents to look into possible violations of LGU officials only on March 31. The following day, April 1, the NBI sent an “invitation letter” to Sotto asking for his explanation “on the alleged violation of Section 6(a) of RA 11469. Section 6 of the law states penalties that may be imposed on “LGU officials disobeying national government policies or directives in imposing quarantines.”

Sotto and the DILG were previously at odds over allowing tricycle operations in Pasig City at the start of the enhanced community quarantine. But the Pasig City mayor said in a TV interview on March 19 that they will comply with national directives, which include the suspension of mass transportation.

This was a day after he appealed to the national government for tricycles be allowed to ply Pasig City so they can ferry healthcare workers.

DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya also backed Sotto’s statements.

In an interview with CNN Philippines’ “The Source,” Malaya said that Sotto “was already cooperative” after the DILG requested that the operation of tricycles in the city be stopped.

“So, there is really no issue in so far as the DILG is concerned now,” Malaya added.

The Bayanihan to Heal as One Act was signed into law on March 24.

NBI summons other officials

In a statement on Thursday, the NBI said it also asked other LGU officials to explain possible violations of the enhanced community quarantine guidelines and of RA 11469.

Distor said that letters were also sent to Barangay Chairman Emiliano Ramos of Barangay Talon Uno of Las Piñas City and Barangay Chairman Rodolfo Palma of Barangay Bagong Pag-asa in Quezon City.

LGU officials from Masbate and Cebu City were also invited by the NBI, but the bureau did not identify them. 

NBI said will also invite Sen. Koko Pimentel who breached his quarantine protocols once the senator’s containment period is over. — Kristine Joy Patag

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