The preliminary investigation into Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel’s case of breaching the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) has been given the tentative date of May 20 by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of the Prosecutor.
In a text message, Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento said, “Subpoena to Sen. Koko Pimentel and (copy of the) complaint to be released today. Preliminary investigation tentatively set on May 20.”
Private lawyer and former law Dean Rico Quicho was the one who filed the complaint against Pimentel.
Pimentel violated the Republic Act No. 11332, or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events Act of 2018 when he went with his pregnant wife to the Makati Medical Center (MMC) breaking quarantine protocols after only 10 days while exhibiting symptoms related to COVID-19, according to Quicho.
The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) called Pimentel when he was at the hospital to inform him of his positive diagnosis. Pimentel stated that he left the hospital after hearing the news.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra stated, “My instruction was, if Makati Medical Center or any other party in interest does not file any complaint, then the NBI may initiate its own fact-finding and ask Sen. Koko to explain his side.”
The Department of Justice told Quicho to produce a hard copy of the complaint within five days of the ECQ ending, which will be on April 30.
NBI Director Eric Distor added that just like Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto, they would also summon Pimentel.
Sotto was summoned by the NBI for allegedly violating the Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
Sotto allowed tricycles to roam around the city which the NBI saw as breaking community quarantine protocols. However, said violations happened before the Bayanihan act was made into a law.
The mayor would’ve been fined ₱10,000.00 but not more than ₱1-million or both at the discretion of the court or be imprisoned for at least two months had he been found guilty.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año says he does not see any violation by the mayor.
“Para sa akin, wala naman siyang violation doon dahil noong nalaman niya na hindi pinayagan, hindi naman siya tumuloy. Ako naman naniniwala na Mayor Vico can fully explain and defend himself if ever there is a charge against him.”
Sotto made it clear that he followed all the government policies regarding COVID-19.
President Rodrigo Duterte also denied that he had something to do with Sotto being summoned.
“Isang beses lang ako nagsalita, nu’ng nag-proclaim ako ng emergency,” Duterte said. “Wala akong pakialam sa operation ng NBI.”
“Trabaho ng pulis ‘yan. Wala na akong pakialam,”
Senators weren’t happy with the NBI and expressed their frustration.
Senate Leader Tito Sotto III defended his nephew by saying, “Laws are never retroactive if detrimental to any accused.”
Koko Pimentel, although on the opposition side, also criticized the NBI saying that “improvised tricycles” were already being used way before March 18, six days before the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act was signed and enacted.