Pimentel’s quarantine violation now up for DOJ resolution
MANILA, Philippines — The complaint filed almost four months ago against Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III for violation of new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) quarantine protocols is now up for resolution by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Assistant State Prosecutor Wendell Bendoval concluded this week the preliminary investigation without requiring Pimentel and the complainant, former University of Makati law dean Rico Quicho to appear before the DOJ for questioning.
“Case now submitted for decision,” Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento said on Friday.
The DOJ will decide whether to indict the senator based on the complaint Quicho filed on April 6, and the exchange of comments and accusations between Quicho and Pimentel.
The prosecutor has 60 days to issue a decision after a case has been submitted for resolution.
Should be in quarantine
Quicho accused Pimentel of violating health protocols amid the COVID-19 outbreak when he brought his pregnant wife to Makati Medical Center on March 25 for her cesarean delivery, when he was supposed to be in self-quarantine after being tested for the virus.
Pimentel claimed he learned that he had tested positive for COVID-19 when he was already at the hospital.
Makati Medical Center had denounced the senator’s “irresponsible and reckless action” which forced the hospital to quarantine more members of their depleted medical staff due to possible exposure to the virus.
Quicho, who volunteered to file a complaint since neither the hospital nor the Department of Health (DOH) filed one, asked the DOJ to charge Pimentel with violation of Republic Act No. 11332, or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events Act of 2018, and regulations of the DOH.
No personal knowledge
Pimentel, who is a lawyer, filed his counter-affidavit in mid-July. Based on leaked copies of the counter-affidavit, the senator argued that Quicho had no right to appoint himself as complainant because he had no personal knowledge of what happened.
“Attorney Quicho is not somebody who, by any stretch of the imagination, could be affected by the events that transpired in the evening of March 24, 2020,” read his counter-affidavit.
Pimentel also argued that he was not considered a “person under investigation” when he was tested on March 20, using the original DOH label for persons who should be quarantined for possible infection.
The senator further accused Quicho of filing the complaint to prop up his political ambitions.
Quicho wrote on his Facebook page on July 15 that Pimentel’s reply to his complaint was “the entitled rant of an arrogant man being held to account for his own actions.”
“These are the excuses of a man who had been enjoying 113 days of impunity and who had been enjoying VIP favors from then until now,” Quicho said.
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