DOJ summons Senator Pimentel over ‘quarantine breach’



The Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued on Tuesday a subpoena for Senator  Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III over his alleged breach of quarantine protocol for showing up at a hospital despite experiencing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) symptoms, Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento said.

Pimentel is facing a complaint filed by lawyer Rico Quicho, former dean of the University of Makati School of Law, for allegedly violating Republic Act No. 11332 when he accompanied his then pregnant wife at the Makati Medical Center on March 24, despite undergoing testing for COVID-19 on March 20.

Pimentel admitted to experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

However, Pimentel said he was only informed that he had tested positive for COVID-19 while at the hospital and that he immediately left.

Both the hospital and the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed there was a breach of quarantine protocols.

Malcontento also disclosed that the preliminary investigation is tentatively scheduled on May 20.

In a Facebook post earlier Tuesday, Quicho said he received an order from the Department of Justice requiring him to appear within 5 days from the lifting of the enhanced community quarantine with hard copies of his complaint and annexes and to swear to his complaint under oath.

The lockdown is set to end on April 30.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra earlier said the Justice department will immediately schedule a preliminary investigation on the complaint against Pimentel on an appropriate date given the Luzon-wide lockdown.

The DOJ probe is separate from that of the National Bureau of Investigation.

Both Pimentel and Guevarra received strong criticism online – Pimentel for his actions and Guevarra for his statement that the DOJ will temper the rigor of the law with human compassion, when asked for comment regarding Pimentel’s case.

Authorities have arrested thousands of violators of the enhanced community quarantine protocols. Some were warned, others fined but there were also those prosecuted, such as protesters from Sitio San Roque in Quezon City who were arrested for holding a protest action. They have since been released on bail.

Meanwhile, Pimentel said he would ask his lawyers on what steps he would take.

“…[M]y lawyers will do what is necessary. I will defer to them,” Pimentel said./Stacy Ang

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