Pimentel had explained that he was already in the hospital when he got a call from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, confirming that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
Senate PRIB/Joseph Vidal, File
Koko sued over Makati Med visit
Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - April 7, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A criminal complaint was filed yesterday against Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel before the Department of Justice (DOJ) for breaching quarantine protocols when he visited the Makati Medical Center (MMC) despite showing symptoms of the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 on March 24.

Pimentel had explained that he was already in the hospital when he got a call from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, confirming that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

His wife Kathryna said he had been on 10-day quarantine because of virus symptoms before the visit.

In a complaint e-mailed to the DOJ, lawyer Rico Quicho cited Pimentel’s alleged violation of Republic Act 11332 or the law on mandatory reporting of notifiable diseases and events of public health concern.

The offense carries a penalty of up to six months in prison on top of fines.

“We are one with the Filipino people in condemning his reckless acts, which exposed the public, especially health workers to the virus,” Quicho said. “He blatantly violated laws, which put the health of medical frontliners and ordinary citizens at risks.”

Quicho said Pimentel has “categorically admitted his breach without remorse. And because of his position, he is still not being made accountable.”

Quicho expressed hope that the DOJ will act on the complaint. 

“We hope that the DOJ will be true to its commitment to uphold the rule of law without fear or favor,” he said.

Pimentel said he has not read the complaint, adding he was not familiar with the procedure of filing complaints by e-mail.

“To be fair to me, I hope Quicho furnishes me with a copy so I can answer,” Pimentel told reporters through Viber.

The senator received flak when he accompanied his then pregnant wife to the MMC four days after he was tested for COVID-19.

Prior to this, closed-circuit television footage caught Pimentel shopping at the S&R supermarket in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig after he had announced that he manifested COVID-19 symptoms such as flu and body pains.

Pimentel has apologized publicly after the MMC denounced his “irresponsible and reckless action.”

He said he never intended to harm anyone.

The MMC said it had to put 22 of its personnel on quarantine and shut down the delivery complex for disinfection because of Pimentel’s visit.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said they would schedule a preliminary investigation on the complaint against Pimentel. 

“We assure the public that the justice department will apply the law fairly, regardless of the status of the respondent, with due respect to his rights,” Guevarra said.

The National Bureau of Investigation earlier said it would look into Pimentel’s supposed violation of quarantine guidelines. – With Paolo Romero

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