By Jeffrey Damicog
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has postponed the start of the preliminary investigation of the complaint filed against Sen. Aquilino Martin “Koko” Pimentel III over allegations of having violated quarantine protocols which was scheduled on Thursday, June 18.
Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento on Tuesday said the complainant in the case, former University of Makati law school dean Rico Quicho, has yet to submit hard copies of the complaint and pieces of evidence which are required under the procedures.
“We ordered the complainant to comply with procedural requirements, such as submission of original complaints and attachments,” Malcontento said.
Quicho only sent an e-mail of the complaint and its attachments including the pieces of evidence on April 6 because of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) that was imposed over Metro Manila due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The prosecutor general said Assistant State Prosecutor Wendell Bendoval, who has been assigned to conduct the preliminary investigation, already sent last week the notice which asked Quicho to comply with the requirements.
The complainant has 10 days to comply upon receiving the order.
“If he fails to do so, the case will be submitted for decision agad (the case is submitted for decision). The prosecutor can decide based on what is available,” Malcontento said.
He added that Pimentel will no longer be asked to submit the required counter-affidavit to answer the allegations.
“Kung hindi sya mag comply, no need to counter, kasi entitled ang respondent to get all evidence against him (If Quicho does not comply, there is no need to counter because respondent Pimentel is entitled to get all the evidence against him),” Malcontento explained.
In the event Quicho complies, Malcontento said there is no need to conduct “fact to face” hearings.
“Submission of affidavits lang and evidence (Submission of affidavits and evidence will be made). No need for face to face hearings,” he said.
In his complaint, Quicho, former spokesman of ex-Vice President Jejomar Binay and late Chief Justice Renato Corona, said Pimentel should be held liable for violating Republic Act No. 11332, the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act, and its implementing rules and other Department of Health (DOH).
The case concerns the March 24 visit of Pimentel who accompanied his then pregnant wife, Kathryna, to the Makati Medical Center (MMC).
The MMC denounced the lawmaker’s actions since he was supposed to be under self-quarantine at that time and considered a person under monitoring (PUM).
After his visit, Pimentel confirmed he tested positive for having the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
His wife gave birth on March 29.