- Sen. Koko Pimentel tested positive for COVID-19.
On Wednesday, March 25, Pimentel confirmed that he tested positive for COVID-19. He is the second senator to come out positive for the disease.
“I was informed late last night March 24, 2020 that I have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. The swab was taken last Friday, March 20, 2020,” he said.
On the same day, the senator also confirmed circulating news that he went to the Makati Medical Center to accompany his wife who was scheduled to deliver their first child.
He, however, denied entering and roaming around the delivery room saying he immediately left the hospital after receiving the call from the RITM (Research Institute for Tropical Medicine) that he tested positive for COVID-19.
But Makati Medical Center in their official statement denounced Pimentel’s breach of protocol, saying they he violated the home quarantine protocol and entered the premises of the MMC delivery room.
The hospital slammed the senator for his irresponsible and reckless action which unduly exposed their patients and medical front liners to possible infection.
With Pimentel’s admission, questions are going around if it is possible that he will be charged and jailed for risking the health of medical workers and patients of the hospital.
Under RA 11332 or An Act Providing Policies and Prescribing Procedures on Surveillance and Response to Notifiable Diseases, Epidemics, and Health Events of Public Health Concern, and Appropriating Funds Therefor, Repealing for the Purpose Act No. 3573, Otherwise Known as the “Law on Reporting of Communicable Diseases” the following are the punishable acts stated in Section 9.
- Non-cooperation of persons and entities that should report and/or respond to notifiable diseases or health events of public concern; and
- Non-cooperation of the person or entities identified as having the notifiable disease, or affected by the health event of public concern.
Section 10, on the other hand, states that anyone who violates it may be “penalized with a fine of not less than 20,000 pesos) but not more than 50,000 pesos or imprisonment of not less than a month but not more than six months, or both, at the discretion of the proper court.
On March 16, in a statement after President Rodrigo Duterte’s public address, DOJ Sec. Menardo Guevarra also said that those who will not abide by the quarantine rules may face arrest under the Revised Penal code.
“Violators of the enhanced community quarantine may be arrested and charged under Article 151 of the [Revised Penal Code] which punishes resistance and disobedience to a person in authority or the agents of such person.”
However in his latest statement Wednesday, right after the news about Sen. Pimentel went viral, Guevarra changed tune saying compassion will be used in applying the law in these abnormal times.
“During abnormal times like this, when people are prone to commit mistakes or violations of the law, the DOJ will temper the rigor of the law with human compassion. But this is not to say that the DOJ will not act upon the filing of a proper complaint by any interested party,” said Guevarra.
DOJ Usec. Markk Perete added that for Pimentel to be arrested, a complaint must be filed by a relevant party.
“For a complaint to prosper, those who have personal knowledge of the incident should file the complaint,” he said.