A formal subpoena will be sent next week to administration Sen. Aquilino 'Koko' Pimentel III requiring him to answer charges that he violated quarantine protocols when he brought his pregnant wife to a hospital despite being a person under investigation for COVID-19.
"We will issue subpoena likely next week," Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento yesterday disclosed to reporters.
For his part, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that he has already read the electronic complaint filed against Pimentel, but he declined to release a copy to reporters.
"Yes. I read Atty. (Rico) Quicho’s complaint and forwarded it to the Prosecutor General’s Office for appropriate action. Sorry we can’t give out copies of the complaint till we have sent one to Sen. Koko," Guevarra said in a separate message.
Quicho announced on Monday the filing of a letter-complaint against Pimentel before the Department of Justice after he was accused of violating quarantine protocols for bringing his wife to the Makati Medical Center (MMC) despite being a person under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19.
In his Facebook post, Quicho said: "At 11:47 AM today, Monday, (April 6, 2020), I filed with the Department of Justice ("DOJ") through electronic mail, a Letter-Complaint against Senator Koko Pimentel detailing the clear facts and circumstances that establish his direct violation of RA No. 11332 and its implementing rules and other DOH regulations."
According to Quicho, a former college of law dean of the University of Makati, the complaint used as one of its basis the online petition in Change.org which amassed 200,000 signatures calling for a formal case against Pimentel.
"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.
Despite being a PUI for COVID-19, Pimentel brought his wife Kathryna to the MMC Tuesday evening, as she was scheduled to give birth Wednesday morning.
The Pimentels said that they were already at the hospital when the senator received the news about his test results.
"I was informed late last night March 24, 2020, (Tuesday) that I have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. The swab was taken last Friday, March 20, 2020,” Pimentel said in a statement.
The government earlier warned that quarantine violators may be arrested and charged for violating Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code which “punishes resistance and disobedience to a person in authority or the agents of such person" and violation of Republic Act No. 11332 — the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.
RA 11332 provides polices and measures for surveillance and response to notifiable diseases and protect Filipinos from any public health threats. One of its prohibited acts is the "non-cooperation of the person or entities identified as having the notifiable disease, or affected by the health event of public concern."