Pimentel may face charges, Senate probe over quarantine breach

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 26) — Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III may face a string of charges and even a Senate probe for accompanying his expectant wife to the Makati Medical Center, effectively breaching quarantine protocols.

Senate Ethics Committee chairman Manny Pacquiao told CNN Philippines' News Night he can call for a hearing to tackle any complaint that may be filed against Pimentel.

Siguro kung may complaint na, iimbestigahan namin sa Ethics Committee kung may pagkukulang siya, kung may pagkasala siya,” Pacquiao said. “Pero sa tingin ko, as a husband, maganda ‘yung intention niya na samahan ‘yung asawa niya sa hospital.”

[Translation: If there is a complaint, we can investigate in the Ethics Committee if he had any lapses or mistakes. But I think, as a husband, he had a good intention in accompanying his wife to the hospital.]

Pacquiao, who is from Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan which Pimentel heads, said his colleague may have just “overlooked” the risk that he may infect other people at the hospital out of his concern for his wife.

Former University of Makati law dean Rico Quicho said he, his associates and law students are drafting a complaint against Pimentel, looking into possible criminal, civil and administrative charges against the senator who tested positive for COVID-19.

Quicho said there is no definite date yet when to file their complaint against Pimentel, adding that they want to be thorough about it, making sure to include factual allegations against the senator.

He, however, said he is not in contact with Makati Medical Center and would not represent it. But he hopes that the hospital would eventually press charges against Pimentel.

Former Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te said it is clear that Pimentel violated quarantine protocols.

He and University of the Philippines law professor John Molo said Pimentel may have violated Section 9(e) of Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.

That law punishes the failure to disclose notifiable diseases, like COVID-19, with a fine of ₱20,000 to ₱50,000 fine or a jail term of one to six months.

For violating the enhanced community quarantine, Molo said Pimentel can be fined between ₱10,000 and ₱50,000 or jailed for up to a year.

Molo added that Pimentel could also be sued for criminal negligence, disobedience to agents of a person in authority, graft and corruption and for damages.

He also said that Pimentel may be disbarred, and suspended or expelled from the Senate for what he did.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said they “will temper the rigor of the law with human compassion” as people are prone to commit violations “during abnormal times like these.”

“But this is not to say that the DOJ (Department of Justice) will not act upon the filing of a proper complaint by any interested party,” Guevarra said.

But Te said it is unfortunate that Guevarra came out with such a “tone deaf” statement that appeared to clear Pimentel.

“Where is the compassion when authorities arrest curfew violators because they don’t have a place to go?” Te said.