DOJ hopes to issue Koko ruling on or before November

The Department of Justice (DOJ) hopes to issue a ruling on or before November on the complaint filed against Sen. Koko Pimentel by former University of Makati law dean Rico Quicho for alleged violations of quarantine protocols.

Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that the prosecutor conducting the preliminary investigation of the complaint, Assistant State Prosecutor Wendell Bendoval, has directed Pimentel and Quicho to submit on Monday their comments on the additional evidence submitted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

READ MORE: Makati Med slams Pimentel’s breach of their COVID-19 protocols; Pimentel apologizes, asks for ‘understanding’

“Once we receive these comments then the matter is submitted for decision and the DOJ prosecutors investigating the matter will have at most 60 days to resolve,” Guevarra said.

The case stemmed from the March 24 visit of Pimentel who accompanied his then pregnant wife, Kathryna, to the Makati Medical Center for a checkup. She gave birth last March 29.

MMC denounced the lawmaker’s visit since he was supposed to be under self-quarantine for being a person suspected with COVID-19. Pimentel later confirmed he tested positive for COVID-19.

Quicho filed the complaint last April 6 against Pimentel for violating Republic Act No. 11332, also known as the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act, and its implementing rules and other Department of Health (DoH) regulations.

Bendoval submitted the case for resolution in July following the conduct of a preliminary investigation but had to order the re-opening of the preliminary investigation after the NBI submitted last Sept. 4 the findings of its investigation, including the submission of the incident reports from MMC medical director Dr. Saturnino Javier.

“These incident reports were not submitted by Atty. Quicho in his complaint,” said Guevarra who noted that the complainant only submitted news reports of the incident.

“So the DOJ was constrained to re-open the preliminary investigation and accepted the additional evidence forwarded by the National Bureau of Investigation,” he said.

The Justice Secretary noted that the NBI conducted the investigation after the DoH endorsed the complaint filed by Quicho.

“Because of the endorsement by the Department of Health, the NBI obtained from the Makati Medical Center incident reports pertaining to the incident that happened last March involving the senator,” said Guevarra.