The Department of Health endorsed the complaint against Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III for breaching COVID-19 quarantine protocols last March, an official said.
“We have endorsed it to the appropriate authority such as NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) and PNP (Philippine National Police),” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.
The complaint was filed by Atty. Rico Quicho, the former law dean of the University of Makati. On July 16, he posted on social media that, “DOH formally endorsed the complaint vs. Sen. Pimentel to PNP Chief Gamboa and NBI Dir. Distor to undertake investigation for possible violations of RA 11332.”
Republic Act 11332 is the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.
Quicho filed the complaint in April, saying Pimentel violated the law when he accompanied his then pregnant wife to visit the Makati Medical Center on March 24—just 4 days after he got tested for COVID-19. The senator’s results later come out positive.
According to Quicho, the act was in violation of laws and “put the lives and health of frontliners and even ordinary citizens at grave risk.”
Vergeire said the endorsement is part of the DOH’s process.
“Ang DOH naman usually administrative sa amin but with regard to this, meron nang ibang process na kailangan so we have submitted it to the proper authority."
Earlier this week, Pimentel said that the complaint filed against him was “fatally defective” since it was allegedly based on news reports, and should be considered hearsay.
After Pimentel’s visit to the Makati Medical Center on March 24, the hospital released a statement calling him out for accompanying his wife and interacting with several personnel and staff. At that time, the Philippines was in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, and hospitals were being overwhelmed with the number of patients.
"By being in MMC, Senator Pimentel violated his home quarantine protocol, entered the premises of the MMC-DR, thus unduly exposed healthcare workers to possible infection. As a result, a number of our nurses and doctors may need to be quarantined which will further deplete the dwindling workforce of the hospital,” the statement said.
The hospital also had to close down a department and disinfect before it could take in other patients.
DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III was also aware of the breach in protocol and said it “should not have happened.”