The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has summoned Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto for allegedly violating the Bayanihan [Camaraderie] as One Act of 2020, a law which gives President Rodrigo Duterte additional powers to supposedly protect Filipinos against COVID-19.
NBI Deputy Director and spokesman Ferdinand Lavin told The Philippine Star that the bureau sent a letter to Sotto “for disobeying the national government policies in imposing quarantines.” Sotto was summoned to the NBI on April 7 at 10 am so he could defend himself to the authorities, The Philippine Daily Inquirer reports.
A few weeks back, the mayor asked the government if Pasig City could use tricycles to transport healthcare workers and patients to their destinations while mass transport is suspended during the monthlong Luzon-wide lockdown. This was rejected by both Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles on the grounds that adequate social distancing supposedly cannot be followed inside the cramped vehicles.
Sotto, however, didn’t seem to be cowed by the NBI’s summon.
“They’re asking for an ‘explanation on the alleged violation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (e.g. continuous tricycle operation)’ We complied with all directives,” he tweeted this afternoon.
“It’s not illegal to voice an opinion,” he added.
They're asking for an "explanation on the alleged violation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (e.g. continuous tricycle operation)"
We complied with all directives. Hindi po illegal magbigay ng opinyon.
…at alam kaya nila na March 24 naging batas ang Bayanihan Act? https://t.co/PY4LzZDf8y
— Vico Sotto (@VicoSotto) April 1, 2020
The summon prompted #ProtectVico to trend on Twitter Philippines again this afternoon, with netizens like @lawmalandi writing, “Intimidating a government official through unmeritorious accusation is purely idiotic.”
— Law&Landi (@lawmalandi) April 1, 2020
The 30-year-old Sotto was elected Pasig City mayor in 2019, toppling incumbent mayor Robert Eusebio and ending the 27-year mayoralty rule of the Eusebio dynasty in Pasig. Sotto is the son of actor-comedian Vic Sotto and actress Coney Reyes, two fixtures in Philippine showbiz.
The young mayor’s many recorded efforts to help his constituents deal with the ongoing quarantine made him somewhat of a folk hero among netizens, prompting the hashtag to trend twice.