MANILA – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has reopened the case against Senator Aquino “Koko” Pimentel III arising from an alleged violation of quarantine rules in March.
In an order dated Sept. 9 and released on Thursday, Assistant State Prosecutor Wendell Bendoval asked Pimentel and the complainant in the case, lawyer Rico Paolo R. Quicho to submit a comment on the report of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on the incident by Sept. 21.
The NBI memorandum report dated August 24 was received by prosecutors on Sept. 4 and included a copy of the incident report by Dr. Saturnino Javier of the Makati Medical Center (MMC).
Bendoval, in reopening the case, said it was needed in line with the DOJ’s “policy of admitting all evidence that could assist in the judicious resolution of complaints.”
Last July, the case against Pimentel was already up for resolution by prosecutors after the parties completed the submission of their respective pleadings.
In his counter-affidavit, Pimentel said the complaint against him “is fatally defective” and “is based principally on news reports.
“Considering (complainant) Atty. (Rico) Quicho’s lack of personal knowledge, I am being charged based on mere hearsay,” the lawmaker added, referring to the copies of online news reports attached by Quicho in his complaint.
The DOJ is evaluating the complaint filed by Quicho against Pimentel for alleged violation of Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act and three Department of Health issuances — Memorandum Circular No. 2020-0090, Advisory No. 2 and DOH Circular No. 2020-0080, concerning quarantine measures implemented due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
The MMC earlier said Pimentel breached its infection and containment protocols when he went to the hospital with his wife who was about to give birth through cesarean section.
The hospital said Pimentel’s visit “unduly exposed healthcare workers to possible infection” after it was found out that he tested positive for Covid-19 on March 25. (PNA)