Political party won’t sanction Pimentel for COVID-19 quarantine breach, but city lawyers to sue

Ruling political party PDP-Laban will not be sanctioning its president, Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, for breaching quarantine protocols after he went shopping and visited a Makati City hospital before learning he was COVID-19 positive, however, complaints by Makati City’s lawyers are being readied against him.

Earlier this week, Senator Pimentel accompanied his pregnant wife at the Makati Medical Center (MMC) for a cesarean operation, the same night he learned that he had tested positive for the potentially deadly coronavirus. That Pimentel had left self-quarantine in the first place prompted the hospital to issue a stinging public rebuke of the lawmaker.

It also turned out that he went shopping at S&R Taguig City two days after he started feeling symptoms of COVID-19.

The Department of Health (DOH) says persons under investigation, such as Senator Pimentel, should go into 14-day quarantine to prevent the spread of the disease.

Read: #KokoKulong: Filipinos want Pimentel arrested for exposing staff at Makati hospital to COVID-19

“We will not initiate any probe on him [Koko] unless someone raises it in the party, [but] I don’t think so,” said Congressman Johnny Pimentel (no relation to the senator), the spokesperson of PDP-Laban told Manila Bulletin yesterday.

He likewise reiterated to GMA News that they will not take action on the matter.

“Senator Koko learned that he was positive in March [24] at 9 p.m. [and] he went to MMC at 7 p.m. The moment he learned he was positive, he immediately left the premises,” Congressman Pimentel said.

“So, therefore, he was not aware that he was already infected. At this point in time, there is no basis for PDP-Laban to conduct a probe or take action,” he added.

While the senator has his political party to thank for that, he’s not completely off the hook just yet, as other complaints by the city’s lawyers are being readied against him.

Atty. Rico Quicho, a former University of Makati law dean, told The Philippine Daily Inquirer that he and his colleagues will lead the filing of the complaints.

Quicho said, being a father himself, he understood Pimentel wanting the best for his wife and child, “But as a lawyer and a senator, he should have had the common sense to prioritize the country’s welfare… His selfish act led to the quarantine of a whole department and greatly handicapped critical medical services.”

The Makati City lawyer added that there was a clear violation on the senator’s part, and “human compassion” as the justice department pleaded with the public earlier, should not be used as a reason to let Pimentel’s actions slide.

Quicho said that he and his associates, law students, and friends are drafting the complaints that will be filed against the senator. “We cannot let such ineptitude into positions of power. We will rely on the full force of law — we are looking into criminal, civil, administrative charges. Not only to make him accountable but also to set an example,” he added

MMC had earlier called out the senator’s actions through a strongly worded statement, saying the act was “irresponsible and reckless” and an “added burden” to the hospital which is trying to cope with the overwhelming challenge of the outbreak. The hospital has since ordered the entire delivery room complex to be disinfected.

MMC said last night that it acknowledged the senator’s (kinda half-hearted) apology, and thanked people for supporting their previous statement.

“We profusely thank the general public for the outpouring of support to Makati Medical Center…in its denouncement of the breach of our strict infection and containment protocols by Senator Aquilino Martin D. Pimentel III,” the statement read.

MMC said that it “take[s] note” of Senator Pimentel’s apology, and was pleased that DOH Secretary Francisco Duque had “concurred that, indeed a breach was committed.”

Duque yesterday said in a briefing that Pimentel was wrong for entering the hospital.

“The DOH’s stand is, this should not have happened. There was a breach in the quarantine protocol,” he said, but left it to other agencies, which he did not identify, to handle violations on quarantine protocols.

This article, Political party won’t sanction Pimentel for COVID-19 quarantine breach, but city lawyers to sue, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!