Sotto took offense at the statement of NBI spokesman Ferdinand Lavin, saying it was the investigating body that made a fuss about the issue.
Twitter/Vico Sotto/File
Vico hits NBI for politicizing probe of his ‘offense’
Emmanuel Tupas (The Philippine Star) - April 3, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto yesterday lashed back at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for saying that its probe on him for supposed violation of the Bayanihan Act has been “politicized and sensationalized.”

Sotto took offense at the statement of NBI spokesman Ferdinand Lavin, saying it was the investigating body that made a fuss about the issue.

“According to NBI deputy director Lavin, the issue has been politicized and sensationalized. I agree. But with all due respect, sir, please stop and think why it reached this point,” the mayor said in a tweet.

Sotto said it was the NBI that wanted the issue publicized when it gave a copy of the letter asking him to explain why he should not be charged for violating quarantine guidelines to a reporter.

“Your side leaked a copy of the letter to a reporter. Your people came to my office accompanied by media,” he said in Filipino.

The NBI earlier summoned Sotto for possible violation of the Bayanihan Act when he allowed tricycles to operate the city amid the community quarantine due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Sotto said now is not the time for politics as the country battles a national health crisis, adding that officials from the national and local governments should unite in defeating COVID-19.

“We are in a time of crisis. From barangay to national, we need good coordination,” he added.

NBI officer-in-charge Eric Distor clarified that Sotto is not being singled out.

“The NBI’s invitation was for Vico to explain his possible violation of quarantine guidelines. It’s not yet a case. Media blew it up to paint a bad picture of this administration,” Distor said.

NBI deputy director Vicente de Guzman III said five barangay officials from Las Piñas, Quezon City, Cebu, Masbate and Bacolod also received letters from the agency, asking them to explain their alleged violation of quarantine protocols.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III will also be invited over his supposed violation of quarantine rules after he went to the Makati Medical Center and a supermarket in BGC, Taguig despite being under investigation and self-quarantine for COVID-19, the NBI said. He later tested positive.

The NBI said Pimentel would be invited for an explanation as soon as his quarantine is over.

Detained Sen. Leila de Lima hit the NBI’s action against Sotto. – With Rey Galupo, Cecille Suerte Felipe

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