A lawyer has asked the Justice department to prosecute Senator Aquilino Pimentel III for his alleged violation of quarantine laws when he ignored his self-quarantine for a suspected and later-confirmed coronavirus infection.
In his Facebook post on Monday, Rico Quicho said he had emailed the department a letter-complaint against Pimentel “detailing the clear facts and circumstances that establish his direct violation of RA [Republic Act] 11332 and its implementing rules and other [Health department] regulations.”
Pimentel said he had yet to read the complaint.
“Haven’t read it. To be fair to me he could have furnished me with a copy so I could respond,” the former Senate President said.
“DOJ [Department of Justice], I think, will find a way to give me a copy. This e-mail filing is new and I am not familiar with the procedure.”
Pimentel is said to be recovering from his COVID-19 infection but refuses to say if he is home or in a hospital.
Earlier, he vowed to reply to the charges to be filed against him over his alleged violations of the government’s home- quarantine protocols to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“I will respond to the specific allegations in due time after we read them,” he said.
On the same day, he announced he had tested positive for COVID-19, Pimentel accompanies his wife to the Makati Medical Center when he should have been under quarantine.
The hospital condemned his action.
Pimentel said he learned of his COVID-19 test result when he was already in the hospital, but then he left immediately and then apologized.
RA 11332 prohibits the “non-cooperation of persons or entities that should report and/or respond to notifiable diseases or health events of public concern.”
Violators face a fine of P20,000 to P50,000 and imprisonment of one to six months or both.
“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,” Quicho said.
“He blatantly violated laws that put the lives and health of front liners and even ordinary citizens at grave risk.”
Quicho said Pimentel had admitted his breach “without remorse,” and yet “because of his position he is still not being made accountable.”
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Monday the complaint filed by Quicho against Pimentel would be promptly acted upon.
“We’ve been waiting for the filing of this complaint. Now that it has been filed, the Justice department will immediately schedule the preliminary investigation on such date as may be appropriate,” Guevarra said.
“We assure everyone that the Justice department will apply the law fairly and uniformly—regardless of the status of the respondent.”