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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

House Deputy Minority Floor Leader Carlos Zarate has accused the National Bureau of Investigations (NBI) of utilizing the Bayanihan Act of 2020 to criminalize dissent and criticism over the alleged slow roll-out of financial and relief aid for those affected by the ongoing Luzon lockdown.

Zarate blasted 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 coronavirus pandemic.

Zarate stressed the bureau is “harassing those who are only helping people and doing their jobs” like Pasig City 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,” he said.

The lawmaker said in the case of Sotto, “even a first year law student knows that you cannot just issue a shot gun subpoena.”

Meanwhile, Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares said “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!” said Colmenares.

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