Makati Medical Director Saturnino Javier denounced Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III for visiting the hospital by accompanying his pregnant wife while the latter is on strict quarantine due to his status. The former Senate President tested positive for COVID-19 but despite of this, he still went to Makati Medical Center (MMC) and therefore, exposing the health care workers to COVID-19.
Though stating that he barely left his house since March 11, Pimentel however admitted that he attended “two birthday parties, a meeting, and a Senate session”. Pimentel also admitted that prior to his test, he experienced the flu-like symptoms related to COVID-19 such as high fever, sore throat, body pains, and diarrhea. In March 20, he had himself tested and in March 24 he learned that he tested positive while at the hospital. According to him, he immediately informed his pregnant wife’s doctor and left the hospital.
Pimentel later apologized to the staff of MMC for coming with his wife as this is a clear breach of the MMC essential protocols for controlling the infection. However, Pimentel said that according to his point of view, what he did was “necessary” due to the fact that his wife is going to give birth and that quarantines are only for “non-essential movement”. Meanwhile, Javier said that because of what he did, the MMC now has three personnel being isolated and the delivery room had to be disinfected. It was said that the couple entered the delivery room complex where Pimentel’s wife was examined. However, Pimentel’s wife denied this.
Javier stated, “He violated his home quarantine, exposed health workers to possible infection, and therefore, to me, that is reckless and unacceptable. If you have a colleague (Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri) who is positive, all the more you should be extra careful and you should consider yourself to have the infection”.
Meanwhile, University of the Philippines law professor John Molo said that Pimentel can face charges and penalties such as expulsion and suspension from the Senate for “unparliamentary behavior”. He also added that Pimentel may also be charged to pay the fine of up to ₱50,000 or face a “one to six months” term in jail “for failing to disclose that he is suspected of having COVID-19”. As for violation of the enhanced community quarantine, Pimentel “can be fined between ₱10,000 and ₱50,000 or jailed for up to a year”. And according also to Molo, Pimentel could also be charged for “criminal negligence, disobedience to agents of a person in authority, graft and corruption and for damages”.
On the other hand, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo stated on Thursday that all government workers, especially those who are persons under investigation (PUI) or persons under monitoring (PUM) are not exempted from the implementation of the quarantine protocols.
According to Panelo, “The protocols set by the government for persons under investigation or monitoring must be strictly and absolutely observed by all people falling under the said categories, regardless of their socio-political status”. Panelo, also Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, guaranteed that violators would face penalty. He said, “The equal protection clause of the Constitution imposes equal treatment to all. Any transgressor therefore must be dealt with in accordance with law”.