NBI says also investigating Pimentel, 4 other local officials over alleged quarantine violations

Niko Baua, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 01 2020 09:22 PM | Updated as of Apr 01 2020 11:19 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said Wednesday it was also investigating Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III and four other local officials for alleged violations of quarantine guidelines under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act. 

This after it drew heavy criticism for calling on Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto to explain an alleged breach of the recently passed law, drawing heavy criticism online and from other government officials.

NBI officer-in-charge Eric Distor said Pimentel, who is currently battling the coronavirus disease, will be asked to explain himself after quarantine.

The senator earlier ignited public uproar after he accompanied his pregnant wife to the Makati Medical Center despite already showing symptoms of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), prompting disinfection of the hospital. 

He got confirmation he was infected with the virus in a text message during his visit to the hospital. At the time, other lawmakers had gone on quarantine. 

Pimentel, however, had claimed "nobody had imposed" quarantine on him before he tested positive for COVID-19.

Ron Munsayac, Pimentel's chief political officer, said it was "reasonable and logical" for the NBI to question the senator over his alleged quarantine protocol violations.

"But please let us give the man a few weeks to rest, recover, and beat the #COVID-19 virus," Munsayac said in a text message to ABS-CBN News.

Three other local government officials from Quezon City, Cebu and Bacolod will also receive the same letter to explain themselves before the NBI.

The NBI Anti-Graft Division also said a letter was already sent to Barangay Chairman Emiliano Ramos of Barangay Talon Uno in Las Piñas City. 

It was a letter requesting an explanation for an alleged violation of the Bayanihan law, similar to the summon sent to Sotto.

Distor said this is mainly about the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon and the role of local government officials to comply with guidelines set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

The NBI clarified that Sotto and Ramos were the first ones to receive a letter request in the ongoing investigation ordered by the President.

The agency says they are accepting complaints on other local officials who may have violated the implementation of RA 11469, or failed to comply with guidelines of the IATF-IED.

Those who wish to file complaints may coordinate with the NBI.

The Office of the Director - Operations Center can be reached through the 09664723056, 09617349450 and 0285241141 for inquiries related to the community quarantine.

Luzon was placed under lockdown until April 12 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Under the enhanced community quarantine, mass gatherings were banned, school was suspended, while work and public transport were put on hold except for those working in frontline services.--With a report from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News