By EDD K. USMAN
Twitter: @edd1819, Instagram: @bluestar0910, Facebook: SDN — Science, Digital & Current Affairs
(SDN) — DID Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto violate the Covid-19 Bayanihan to Heal as One Act?
This is what the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), a law enforcement agency under the Department of Justice (DOJ), intends to find out.
And to do this, the NBI invited Sotto, a son of popular movie comedian/entertainer Vic Sotto and actress Coney Reyes, to appear before the agency.
It was the youthful mayor, a local government unit (LGU) executive, a neophyte as mayor, who himself revealed the NBI invitation to the public through his Twitter post.
The “Bayanihan” Law gives President Rodrigo R. Duterte additional powers to deal with the threats now spreading and transmitting coronavirus disease officially by the World Health Organization (WHO) as Covid-19 among Filipinos.
“They are asking for an explanation on the alleged violation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (such as the continued operation tricycles),” he said on Twitter.
The young Sotto, whose star is rising among many Filipinos because of his innovative and fresh approach to handling the affairs of Pasig City. He defeated then mayor Robert Eusebio in the 2019 elections.
Mayor Sotto emphasized that he has “complied with all directives.”
“It is not bad expressing an opinion. It is not illegal to say one’s opinion, the mayor said over GMA7 newscast on Wednesday evening.
To recall, the Pasig City chief executive appeared to suggest allowing tricycles to be use as transport vehicle to ferry health workers (now called front-liners) engaged in the Covid-19 pandemic in the country as the government strives to cope with the rising number of confirmed cases.
But his suggestion (which Mayor Sotto described as “opinion”) was torpedoed by Malacanang through Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, who is also the spokesman of the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
The Philippines’ main island of Luzon is under an Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), or lockdown until April 14, unless extend by the President.
Passenger vehicles are not allowed to ply their trade during the ECQ because of the risks of more infections. Social distancing, or physical distancing in the words of the WHO, requires that people must maintain at least a meter from each other. A situation that is not possible on a tricycle.
But Mayor Sotto is of the opinion that tricycles are needed to transport health workers, or patients, especially in narrow streets of the National Capital Region in NCR.
The lockdown started on March 15. By March 17, he still allowed tricycles to make limited trips in the city because of what he said was limited number of vehicles of the city.
While he allowed tricycles to ply the in the early days of the lockdown, he soon relented and stopped it.
As of April 1, the Philippines has registered 2,311 confirmed cases, 96 fatalities, and 50 patients recovered.
The constant increase of coronavirus infections across the world had prompted the WHO to declare the outbreak a pandemic.
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had warned of millions of Covid-19 deaths if countries do not act aggressively. (SDN)