Solon to NBI: Focus on hoarders, profiteers not on Vico Sotto

THE National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) should arrest those guilty of profiteering, hoarding and overpricing of medical supplies to address shortages, especially the personal protective equipment (PPE) instead of wasting its time and resources to investigate Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto.

Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Alfredo “Gibo” Garbin, a lawyer, expressed disappointment at how the NBI has been using its resources at the height of medical supplies shortages and poor families’ strong demand for economic relief amid coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We  are  calling  on the  National  Bureau  of  Investigation  to  concentrate  its  efforts  in apprehending those who are guilty of profiteering from the COVID-19 Pandemic. Dapat agapang hulihin ang scammers at hoarders ng medical supplies at pagkain,” Garbin pointed out.

“The NBI and the police should also arrest those who have violated and are violating the price control currently being imposed by the government.   Mas nararapat rin siguro na sabay-sabay nating bulabugin ang [Bureau of] Customs kung bakit hindi nakakalabas  ang  mga  PPEs  at  pagkain  na  hangang  sa  ngayon  ay  nasa  daungan  ng sasakyan  pandagat  pa rin  at  warehouses  nila.  Nandiyan  ang  solusyon  upang mabigyan  natin  ng  paunang  lunas  ang  kulang -kulang  na  kagamitan  ng  ating frontliners,” Garbin stressed.

Garbin took exception on NBI’s decision to summon Sotto to explain his supposed violation of the national government's policy on the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) when the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act of 2020 or  Republic Act (RA) No. 11469 was not yet passed into law.

“Binulabog ang sambayanan kahapon sa balita na si Mayor Vico Sotto ng Pasig  City  ay  ipinatawag  at  pinagpapaliwanag  ng  National  Bureau  of Investigation  (NBI)  dahil  di  umano  sa  kanyang  pag  labag  sa  Bayanihan  Act  dahil sa pagpapahintulot sa mga tricycle na bumyahe sa Pasig City.   Unang tingin pa lang alam na natin na mali ang nasabing patawag o subpoena dahil ang issue ng tricycle sa Pasig ay naganap bago pa man naisabatas ang Bayanihan Act,” Garbin explined.

Likewise, Garbin asked the NBI “to concentrate their efforts in apprehending those who are violating the enhanced quarantine measures of the government.”

“We need to remind them that time is of the essence.  Every second wasted is another life wasted.  We will not allow any lives to be wasted anymore.  They are not merely statistics in this crisis.  They are Filipino citizens that ought to be protected.  Priorities should be set straight,” said Garbin.

“Kailangang-kailangan natin pagtuunan ng pansin ang kakulangan ng PPEs para sa ating mga doctor at nurses. Mas lalong kailangan natin pagtuunan ng pansin at atensyon na siguraduhing may food security tayo.  Ayusin natin ang supply chain. Unahin natin siguraduhin na may maihahain ang ating mga kababayan sa kanilang hapag kainan,” said Garbin.

House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate and Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares hit the NBI and its cybercrime unit for summoning ordinary citizens who were just airing out their grievances and criticisms of the Duterte administration's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Even a first year law student knows that you cannot just issue a shot gun subpoena ....to give evidence in a certain investigation,” said Zarate, also a lawyer.

"The NBI is harassing those who are only helping people and doing their jobs like Mayor Vico Sotto as well as ordinary citizens voicing out their sentiments in social media. It is as if they are in a fishing expedition to cover up the ineptness of Malacanang," said Zarate.

For his part, Colmenares, another lawyer and a former three-term Bayan Muna congressman, on the other hand said that "while Duterte arrests the hungry for leaving their homes despite the lockdown order, his NBI and cybercrime unit are busy summoning critics to break quarantine rules, appear before them and explain their criticism.”

"As it is Duterte is reallly hellbent on stopping his critics instead of the virus.  Hunger cannot be stopped with more human rights violations but by simply delivering the promised help. Tulong hindi kulong!!" Colmenares stressed.