Home>News>Nation>DOJ clears Pimentel of quarantine breach

DOJ clears Pimentel of quarantine breach

Senator Aquilino 'Koko' Pimentel III
Senator Aquilino 'Koko' Pimentel III

THE Department of Justice dismissed for lack of probable cause the case filed against Senator Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III for allegedly violating quarantine protocol when he brought his wife to the Makati Medical Center (MMC) despite showing symptoms of COVID-19 last year.

In a 19-page resolution, the DOJ dismissed the case against Pimentel on the following grounds:

(1) Senator Koko Pimentel is not a public health authority (i.e. he is not the DOH, the RITM, the Epidemiology Bureau), therefore, not obliged to report under R.A. No. 11332. The mandatory reporting under R.A. No. 11332 was meant for public health authorities only;

(2) Assuming that as a private individual he was mandated to report his medical condition under R.A. No. 11332, there was nothing to report then when he went to S&R BGC on 16 March 2020 or at MMC hospital on 24 March 2020 for Senator Koko Pimentel only knew or learned about his condition of being positive for COVID-19 on the same day – 24 March 2020, while he was already on the premises of the hospital.

There is no “non-cooperation” under Section 9(e) of R.A. No. 11332 as Senator Koko Pimentel was deemed to have “cooperated” when he left the hospital premises immediately after receiving the information about his medical condition, and lastlof

(3) The complaint itself is fatally defective. Complainant Atty. (Rico) Quicho was not the proper party to file the instant complaint, and the pieces of evidence he presented were all hearsay as they were based only on news reports.

News reports, being hearsay evidence, cannot be relied upon as proof of the allegations in the complaint, or as proof of the truth, because they were merely learned, read or heard from others.

Pimentel was accused of violating quarantine protocols when he brought his pregnant wife to the Makati Medical Center last March despite showing symptoms of COVID-19 infection. He later tested positive for the deadly infection but eventually recovered.

Quicho filed the letter-complaint against Pimentel before the DOJ, saying he used as basis the online petition in Change.org calling for the filing of a formal case against the lawmaker.

” We are one with the Filipino people in condemning negligent and reckless acts which expose the public, especially our health workers to unnecessary risks,” Quicho said in his complaint.

“As a lawyer and advocate of the rule of law, I cannot in good conscience allow the reckless actions of Senator Koko Pimentel to be brushed aside so easily. He blatantly violated laws, which put the lives and health of frontliners and even ordinary citizens at grave risk,” the complainant said

” He has categorically admitted his breach without remorse. And yet because of his position, he is still not being made accountable. With this, I hope the DOJ will swiftly act and pursue legal actions against Senator Koko Pimentel. We trust that DOJ will be true to its commitment to the Filipino people to uphold the rule of law without fear or favor, “ Quicho said.

Quicho was a former college of law dean of the University of Makati.

Publication Source :    People's Journal
Hector Lawas
Court reporter for more than 20 years