DOJ clears Pimentel of quarantine breach rapsJanuary 22, 2021
By Benjamin Pulta
MANILA – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has junked charges filed by a lawyer against Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III after he visited Makati Medical Center (MMC) where his wife was giving birth even as he tested positive for Covid-19.
In a statement on Thursday, the DOJ’s Office of the Prosecutor General said it has resolved to dismiss the complaint against Pimentel for violation of Section 9(e) of Republic Act No. 11332 or the “Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of the Public Health Concern” for lack of probable cause.
Spokesperson Prosecutor Honey Delgado said the Office of the Prosecutor General ruled that Pimentel is not a public health authority and therefore, not obliged to report.
It also said assuming as a private individual, Pimentel was mandated to report his medical condition under R.A. No. 11332, there was nothing to report then when he went to S&R BGC on Mar. 16, 2020 and MMC Mar. 24, 2020 since he only knew about his health condition while he was already at the premises of the hospital.
“There is no ‘non-cooperation’ under Section 9(e) of R.A. No. 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,” prosecutors said.
They also said the complaint itself is fatally defective since complainant, lawyer Rico 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,” Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento said.
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 caesarean 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)