It took them nearly four months, but hey, as long as the wheels are turning.
The Department of Health (DOH) today said that it has endorsed a complaint against Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel to the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), for his alleged breach of quarantine protocols back in March.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told reporters in a media forum that they have forwarded the said complaint to the two concerned agencies as part of the department’s process when notified of such wrongdoings.
Lawyer Rico Quicho, a former University of Makati law dean filed a complaint against Pimentel in late March, days after Filipinos learned that the senator visited a Makati hospital on the same night that he found out that he was COVID-19 positive —a move that drew widespread fury online.
Makati Medical Center (MMC) previously issued a statement calling out the senator for his “irresponsible and reckless” action, saying that Pimentel’s decision to accompany his pregnant wife to the hospital’s delivery room endangered the lives of its staff, patients, and the ward’s newborn babies.
Under the DOH’s guidelines, a person under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19 is required to self isolate for 14 days to safeguard against the possible spread of the virus. Health Secretary Francisco Duque —who called Pimentel to inform him of his positive swab results, while the latter was in the hospital— has acknowledged that Pimentel breached his quarantine and said “it should not have happened.”
Despite this, the offending senator has offered up various excuses for his actions, the latest being a counter-affidavit sent to the Justice Department where he claims that he was not a PUI when he entered MMC and was therefore not required to go under mandatory self-quarantine.
Under the DOH’s standards at the time, a PUI is someone who has two of the following qualifications: If they experience signs and symptoms of COVID-19, if they have a history of exposure to a COVID-19 infected patient, and if they have a history of travel in the past 14 days.
Pimentel found out on March 11 that an aide at a Senate hearing had tested positive for the virus while he was not there. He interacted with other senators who self-quarantined after being exposed to the said aide. He experienced a fever and sore throat on March 18 and took a swab test on March 20. He accompanied his wife to MMC on March 24.
In the same affidavit, he added that Quicho’s complaint against him was “fatally defective” because they were based on news reports and should be considered hearsays.
Meanwhile, Quicho in a Facebook post today lauded DOH’s support for his complaint.
“I thank and commend the DOH for endorsing my complaint against Sen. Pimentel to the NBI and PNP. I join them in their call for preferential action by these authorities to investigate and prosecute Sen. Pimentel pursuant to his violation of R.A. 11332,” he said, referring to a law prescribing procedures and response to notifiable diseases, epidemics, and health events of public health concern.
“We would not stop until we get a conviction,” the lawyer added.
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