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DOJ to process any complaint filed against Pimentel

By Jeffrey Damicog

The Department of Justice (DOJ) will act on any complaint which will be filed against Sen. Aquilino Martin “Koko” Pimentel III for violating government measures in curbing the deadly 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra assured.

Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra announces during a press briefing in Malacañang that the matter concerning the closure of the resorts in Boracay is currently one of the top priorities that are being discussed by the cabinet citing that it would not only concern the environmental aspect of the issue but the economic impact as well. (TOTO LOZANO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra
(TOTO LOZANO / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

On the other hand, Guevarra would not yet order the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into Pimentel’s visit at the Makati Medical Center (MMC) ob-gyne facility while he is already a person under investigation for the virus.

“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,” the Secretary said.

“But this is not to say that the DOJ will not act upon the filing of a proper complaint by any interested party,” he assured.

Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete also assured no special treatment will be made once a complaint has been filed before the DOJ.

“In any event, any complaint — regardless of the identity of the respondent — will be objectively evaluated during the appropriate proceedings,” the DOJ spokesman said.

The Secretary noted that, at the moment, “the facts are unfolding by themselves.”

“The parties directly concerned are speaking publicly about the incident. Third parties are bringing in information from all sources into the open,” he observed.

“Leave it to us to determine whether a motu propio investigation by the NBI would still be necessary,” Guevarra stated.

Guevarra previously said that among the charges that could be slapped against those who defy current government health measures against COVID-19 include “non-cooperation” under Sec. 9 of Republic Act 11332.

Among the prohibited acts under Sec. 9 RA 113322 include: “Non-cooperation of the person or entities identified as having the notifiable disease, or affected by the health event of public concern.”

“Any person or entity found to have violated Section 9 of this Act shall be penalized with a fine of not less than Twenty thousand pesos (₱20,000.00) but not more than Fifty thousand pesos (₱50,000.00) or imprisonment of not less than one (1) month but not more than six (6) months, or both such fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the proper court,” read the law.

The MMC has already denounced what it called “irresponsible and reckless action” of Pimentel for visiting the hospital last March 24 to accompany his pregnant wife even though he was already considered a person under investigation (PUI) for having COVID-19 and should be implementing self-quarantine.

Pimentel has already announced that testing showed he is positive with COVID-19.

“His admonition for everyone to observe social distancing, enhanced community quarantine measures, washing of hands and personal hygiene are nothing but empty rhetoric because he himself violated all those,” MMC medical director Dr. Saturnino Javier said in a statement.

Read more: Senator Koko tests positive for COVID-19, Makati Med slams Pimentel’s breach of their COVID-19 protocols; Pimentel apologizes, asks for ‘understanding’

Source: Manila Bulletin

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