DOJ re-opens probe into Pimentel, to include Makati Med report on quarantine breach

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
DOJ re-opens probe into Pimentel, to include Makati Med report on quarantine breach
This Feb. 4, 2020 photo shows Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III wearing a face mask during a Senate hearing on COVID-19.
The STAR / Mong Pintolo

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice has reopened its probe into the quarantine protocol breach complaint against Sen. Koko Pimentel — this time to include a narration from the Makati Medical Center in the investigation.

The investigating prosecutor will now also consider the incident report from the Makati Medical Center Medical Director Saturnino Javier, who said in March that Pimentel “violated his Home Quarantine Protocol [and] entered the premises of the Medical Center Delivery Room Complex.]”

READ: Pimentel violated hospital protocols vs infection — Makati Medical Center

In a one-page order dated September 9, Assistant State Prosecutor Wendell Bendoval said he received a memorandum on September 4 from the National Bureau of Investigation. “It appears that the said memorandum refers to the NBI investigation with regard to the instance case and includes a copy of the Incident Reports submitted by [Javier],” the order read.

“In view of the foregoing and in line with the policy of admitting all evidence that could assist in the judicious resolution of complaints, the preliminary investigation of this case is hereby re-opened,” it added.

Complainant Rico Quicho, a lawyer, and Pimentel are directed to file their respective comment on the NBI memorandum, specifically on the Makati Medical Center’s report, on or before September 21.

Quicho in April filed the complaint against Pimentel when the lawmaker brought his then-pregnant wife to the Makati hospital while waiting for the result of his COVID-19 test, which later turned out to be positive.

The DOJ on July 24 wrapped up its preliminary investigation into Quicho’s complaint, after both Quicho filed a reply and Pimentel filed his own rejoinder.

Pimentel’s defense

In his counter-affidavit on the complaint filed by Quicho, Pimentel asserted that it was “principally based on news reports,” and “based on mere hearsay.”

The senator also argued that Quicho, “is not somebody who, by any stretch of imagination, could be affected by the events that transpired in the evening of March 24, 2020.”

Pimentel also said that those who underwent test on March 20 were not all Persons Under Investigation, but “some were simply VIPs.”

Quicho accused Pimentel of violating Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.

Under the law, “non-cooperation of the person or entities identified as having the notifiable disease, or affected by the health event of public concern.” The DOJ asserted that the said provision—warned by rights lawyers as vague and broad—may be used for violators of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.

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