The Department of Justice (DOJ) has rescheduled again the investigation on Senator Aquilino Pimentel III’s quarantine protocol breach, which was originally set on June 18, Thursday.
“We ordered complainant to comply with procedural requirements, such as submission of original complaints and attachments,” Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento said on Tuesday.
Pimentel is accused of violating Republic Act No. 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act when he accompanied his then-pregnant wife at the Makati Medical Center on March 24, despite having undergone testing for coronavirus on March 20. He later tested positive.
Lawyer Rico Quicho, former dean of the University of Makati School of Law, filed the complaint and the DOJ said in April it would summon Pimentel tentatively on May 20.
However, on May 16, Malcontento said the probe has been pushed back to June 18, citing quarantine protocols in place. Metro Manila was then under modified enhanced community quarantine. It has since shifted to a more relaxed general community quarantine early this month and the Inter-Agency Task Force has extended it until the end of the month.
When the probe was initially reset in May, there was no mention about the need for original documents.
No new date has yet been set for the next schedule of the probe but according to Malcontento, they sent the order by mail last week, directing Quicho to submit the original complaint and attachments within 10 days.
“If he will not comply, then submitted for decision,” the prosecutor general said. “The prosecutor can decide based on what is available.”
But if the complainant complies, Malcontento said Pimentel will be given time to respond.
The senator will not be required to appear as there is “no need for face to face hearings.”
The Department of Health said Pimentel breached quarantine protocols while the Makati Medical Center condemned the senator’s action.
Pimentel, for his part, earlier said he will respond to the allegations in due time.
He announced that he tested positive on March 25.
Pimentel, who was criticized for his action, said he learned of his COVID-19 test result when he was already in the hospital. He said he left immediately. He has since apologized.
He was issued a subpoena by the DOJ on April 14./Stacy Ang