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Philippine lawer to make a complaint against Senator Pimentel for breaching coronavirus quarantine protocol

Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, then-Senate president, leading the opening of a Congress session. Twitter/Senate. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

Pan Pacific Agency | COMMUICATION AGENCY FOR PACIFICA REGIONS

MANILA, Mar 26, 2020, PhilStar. A complaint is being readied against Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, after he breached quarantine protocols and went to the Makati Medical Center, exposing medical staff to the novel coronavirus, The Philippine Star reported.

Lawyer Rico Quicho said that he is drafting a complaint against Pimentel who announced Wednesday that he tested positive on COVID-19.

“We will rely on the full force of law—we are looking into criminal, civil and administrative charges. Not only to make him accountable, but also set an example,” he said.

On Wednesday night, MMC denounced Pimentel for violating his home quarantine protocol by entering the hospital premises upon bringing his wife who was about to give birth.

Quicho told reporters that he is not connected with the Makati Medical Center. He clarified that the complaint will be drafted by him, his associates at Quicho & Angeles Law, friends and law students, Quicho added.

“I want to be as thorough as possible. [We’re] waiting for other medical associations to send more info,” Quicho added.

Quicho is the former spokesman of ex-Vice President Jejomar Binay.

He also asked to be referred to doctors, nurses or patients who may testify in the case.

“We are coordinating with different medical associations, individuals and concerned citizens and we encourage MMC to review their CCTV footage and join us in clarifying the facts of the situation and holding those responsible into account,” the lawyer said.

‘Indifference’ of DOJ

Quicho’s statement came after Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that they will not yet order a fact-finding investigation into Pimentel.

Asked about a potential investigation into Pimentel’s accountability amid a State of National Emergency and under a law that punishes “non-cooperation” of a person as having the notifiable disease, Guevarra invoked his earlier statement on tempering the rigor of law with human compassion.

“As I have said before, during abnormal times like these, when people are prone to commit mistakes or violations of the law, the DOJ will temper the rigor of the law with human compassion,” Guevarra told reporters.

Quicho said: “We will not let the indifference shown by the Department of Justice pass. We will strengthen our complaint. It is clear that [Pimentel] violated the laws.”

“The fundamental principle that public office is public trust is echoed by no less than our Constitution. That is clear on Article Xi, Section 1: ‘Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must, at all times, be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency; act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives’,” Quicho added.

Pimentel apologizes

Pimentel on Thursday apologized to MMC but insisted that he did not violate quarantine protocols.

“Nobody imposed any quarantine upon me except that to cooperate with the enhanced community quarantine… With or without COVID I do not go around. I’m a home body. It’s natural for me to just stay at home,” Pimentel said in a telephone interview with ANC’s “Headstart” Thursday.

Dr. Saturnino Javier, MMC medical director and Interim co-CEO, said at least six doctors have been exposed to Pimentel.

This figure may still increase as the hospital is still determining the second layer of hospital staff who came into close contact with the senator.

Later on Thursday, S&R Membership Shopping confirmed that the senator went to its Taguig branch on March 16, two days after he reported feeling “flu-like symptoms.”

Staff who may have interacted with the senator are already on quarantine, S&R said.

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