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‘Koko’ cleared of quarantine breach raps

The Department of Justice has dismissed for lack of basis the complaint filed against Senator Aquilino Pimentel III for his alleged quarantine breach last year.

In a 19-page resolution, the DOJ resolved to dismiss for lack of probable cause the complaint against Pimentel for alleged violation of Republic Act 11332 or the “Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of the Public Health Concer” for disregarding quarantine protocols.

Reacting to the dismissal, Pimentel branded as unassailable and correct the Department of Justice’s decision dismissing a complaint against him for quarantine breach when he went to a hospital while already exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms in March last year.

“How can something non criminal all of a sudden become criminal when you are not even expected to be knowledgeable or an expert about their contents? “ Pimentel said.

“And the person who charged me was not even anywhere near me or the place of the incident,” he added.

Pimentel received flak in March 2020 when he accompanied his wife to a hospital despite supposedly being under quarantine as then-suspected and later confirmed COVID-19 infection.

The administration senator explained that he only learned that he was tested positive for COVID-19 when he was already at the hospital and claimed that he left immediately.

Lawyer Rico Quicho filed a complaint against Pimentel with the Department of Justice, accusing the lawmaker of violating RA No. 11332 and regulations of the Department of Health.

However, the DOJ prosecutors stressed that there was a lack of sufficient basis to hold Pimentel liable for violating quarantine laws.

The DOJ’s Office of the Prosecutor General ruled that Pimentel was “not a public health authority” and was thus “not obliged to report” under the mandatory reporting provision of RA 11332.

Even assuming that he had to report his medical condition as a private individual, the DOJ prosecutors pointed out that “there was nothing to report” at the time he went to the Makati Medical Center and the S&R at Bonifacio Global City on March 24 and March 16, respectively.

The prosecutors noted that 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 at the premises of the hospital.”

“There is no ‘non-cooperation’ under Section 9(e) of R.A. 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,” the DOJ said.

Besides, the DOJ said the complaint itself, filed by Quicho, was “fatally defective.”

It said Quicho was not the “proper party” to file the complaint and that his evidence was all based on news reports and considered “hearsay.”

“The complaint itself is fatally defective. Complainant Atty. 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,” it said.

The prosecutors also took into consideration the final investigation report submitted by the National Bureau of Investigation to the DOJ “recommending that the case be closed and terminated.”

Topics: Department of Justice , Aquilino Pimentel III , Makati Medical Center , COVID-19
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