Prosecutor dismisses COVID-19 case vs Pimentel

Published January 21, 2021, 6:20 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Senator Aquilino Pimentel III on Thursday said the dismissal by the Office of the Prosecutor General (OPG) of a complaint against him for non-reporting of his being positive of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) for lack of probable cause is ‘’unassailable and correct.’’   

Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

‘’Tama naman yan (That is right). The complaint criminally charged me for violation of non-penal DOH (Department of Health) issuances which are not even addressed to me,’’ Pimentel, a former Senate President, said.       

‘’How can something non-criminal all of a sudden become criminal when you are not even expected to be knowledgeable or an expert about their contents?’’ he asked.       

 ‘’And the person who charged me was not even anywhere near me or the place of the incident. Kakapagtaka (It is surprising) why he became all of a sudden the source of the allegations,’’ Pimentel, a bar topnotcher, added.        

The complainant is Atty. Rico Quicho.      

Pimentel sent to Senate reporters the text copy of the portion of OPG’s resolution:        

The Office of the Prosecutor General, Department of Justice, resolved to dismiss the complaint against Senator Koko Pimentel for violation of Section 9(e) of R.A. No. 11332 or the “Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of the Public Health Concern” for lack of probable cause.        

The 19-page resolution enumerated the grounds for the dismissal, to wit:        

(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 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. 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.