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DOJ reopens probe on Koko Pimentel quarantine breach

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has reopened its preliminary investigation into the criminal complaint filed against Senator Aquilino Pimentel III over his alleged quarantine breach last March.

A new submission by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) prompted the reopening of the preliminary investigation, according to a September 9 order by Assistant State Prosecutor Wendell Bendoval.

The case was originally submitted for resolution in July.

Bendoval said the NBI submitted a memorandum regarding its own investigation of the incident on September 4. He said the submission includes a copy of the incident reports from Makati Medical Center Director Saturnino Javier.

Pimentel drew criticism in March when he accompanied his wife to Makati Med despite supposedly being under quarantine for a then-suspected and later confirmed COVID-19 infection.

The senator announced that he had tested positive on March 25. He explained that he learned of his COVID-19 test result when he was already at the hospital and that he left immediately.

Lawyer Rico Quicho filed a complaint against Pimentel before the DOJ, accusing the lawmaker of violating Republic Act No. 11332 and regulations of the Department of Health.

Pimentel and Quicho argued their positions through pleadings submitted during the preliminary investigation, which is a process where prosecutors determine whether or not there is basis to file charges against a person in court.

With the reopening of the investigation, Bendoval ordered both Quicho and Pimentel to file their respective comments to the NBI memorandum, particularly the Makati Med incident reports, on or before September 21.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra had earlier promised a fair investigation. 

"We assure everyone that the justice department will apply the law fairly and uniformly, regardless of the status of the respondent, with due respect at all times to the rights of the respondent," Guevarra said.—AOL, GMA News