By Vanne Terrazola
Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Thursday questioned the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) authority in summoning local government officials whom it believed violated the “Bayanihan to Heal as One” Act.
Sotto said the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and not the Department of Justice (DOJ), has the jurisdiction over local government officials, especially if complaints have yet to be filed against them.
“If a local official has not violated any law, the DILG is the [department] that has jurisdiction over him. Not the DOJ!” Sotto posted on Twitter Thursday morning.
The NBI is an agency attached to the DOJ.
The Senate leader was apparently commenting on the NBI’s summons to his nephew, Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto, for supposedly violating the Republic Act No. 11469, particularly for disobeying the national government’s policies and directives in implementing quarantines to contain the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The law was signed on March 24.
Sotto, a principal author of the Bayanihan Act, earlier said the law cannot be applied retroactively except for the provision granting indemnity to health workers who were severely infected or who died due to COVID-19.
On Thursday, he pointed out that the NBI was “completely wrong” in its move.
“DOJ under ang NBI (The NBI is under the DOJ), if there is no law violated bakit mo papatawag ang mayor (why would you call the mayor)? Again, laws detrimental are not retroactive. Therefore, ang may jurisdiction sa mga local officials ay DILG (the DILG has the jurisdication over local officials),” said Sotto, who also once served as a Quezon City vice mayor.
The Senate chief advised the NBI to refrain from issuing unnecessary press releases and help instead in addressing the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“Kung hindi rin lang napag-aralan mabuti, iwas muna sa ‘press release’ at nakakaabala lang sa dapat (If they have not studied their move carefully, the NBI should just avoid press releases because it only hampers the government’s) focus on fighting the scourge of the world, COVID-19,” he told reporters.