Jan 22, 2021 @ 11:08

Group deplores DOJ resolution clearing Koko from quarantine breach

Akbayan Partylist on Friday deplored a Justice Department resolution clearing administration Sen. Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III of any accountability for allegedly violating quarantine rules last year.

“Nakakahiya. What makes the likes of Sen. Koko and Duterte’s other minions so special that they are free to abuse their positions and not required to obey our laws?”

“We expected more from our leaders to follow the rules, and even more to implement them fairly. Kung ganito ang “best and brightest” leaders natin, hindi nakakapagtaka ang patuloy na pagkalat ng COVID-19 sa bansa, ” the group said in a statement.

On Thursday, the DOJ junked for lack of probable cause the case filed against Pimentel for alleged violation of quarantine protocol for bringing his wife to a hospital despite showing symptoms of COVID-19

In a 19-page resolution, the DOJ dismissed the case (Section 9[e] of R.A. No. 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of the Public Health Concern) on the following grounds:

(1) Senator Koko Pimentel is not a public health authority (i.e. he is not the DOH, the RITM, the Epidemiology Bureau), therefore, not obliged to report under R.A. No. 11332. The mandatory reporting under R.A. No. 11332 was meant for public health authorities only;

(2) Assuming that as a private individual he 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 16 March 2020 or at MMC (Makati Medical Center) hospital on 24 March 2020 for Senator Koko 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. 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, and lastly;

(3) The complaint itself is fatally defective. Complainant Atty. (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.

Pimentel was accused of violating quarantine protocols when he brought his pregnant wife to the Makati Medical Center last March despite showing symptoms for COVID-19. He later tested positive for the deadly infection but eventually recovered.

Quicho filed the letter-complaint against Pimentel before the DOJ, saying he used as basis the online petition in Change.org calling for the filing of a formal case against the lawmaker.

” We are one with the Filipino people in condemning negligent and reckless acts which expose the public, especially our health workers to unnecessary risks.”

“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. He blatantly violated laws, which put the lives and health of frontliners and even ordinary citizens at grave risk.”

” He has categorically admitted his breach without remorse. And yet because of his position, he is still not being made accountable. With this, I hope the DOJ will swiftly act and pursue legal actions against Senator Koko Pimentel. We trust that DOJ will be true to its commitment to the Filipino people to uphold the rule of law without fear or favor, ” Quicho said.

Quicho was a former college of law dean of the University of Makati. #

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