File photo shows Sen. Aquilino 'Koko' Pimentel III.
The STAR/Geremy Pintolo, File
Pimentel violated hospital protocols vs infection — Makati Medical Center
Ratziel San Juan (Philstar.com) - March 25, 2020 - 6:17pm

MANILA, Philippines (Corrected, 7:12 p.m.) — The Makati Medical Center on Wednesday evening said that Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, who announced earlier in the day that he tested positive for the new coronavirus disease, breached its strict infection and containment protocols on Tuesday night.

RELATED: Pimentel becomes second senator to test positive for COVID-19

“[Pimentel], whose result for COVID-19 testing turned out to be positive, brought his wife to the hospital for delivery via cesarean section. By being in MMC, [the senator] violated his Home Quarantine Protocol, entered the premises of the [Medical Center Delivery Room Complex], thus, unduly exposed healthcare workers to possible infection,” Medical Director and Interim Co-CEO doctor Saturnino Javier said in a statement.

In the same statement, the medical center called out the "irresponsible and reckless action of the senator," saying he should have set an example for his constituents.

"He (Pimentel) added to the burden of a hospital trying to respond in its most competent and aggressive manner to cope with the daunting challenges of this COVID-19 outbreak. More than anyone else, Mr. Pimentel, should have realized the ardent desire of every well-meaning Filipino and every dedicated healthcare institution to contain the spread of the infection,” it said.

"His admonition for everyone to observe social distancing, enhanced community quarantine measures, washing of hands and personal hygiene are nothing but empty rhetoric because he himself violated all those. By his actions, he contributed no solution. In fact, he created another problem - for Makati Medical Center, the very institution which embraced his wife for obstetric care.”

The hospital, however, assured stakeholders that it has since decontaminated the involved facility and evaluated the affected healthcare workers.

Employees who were identified and evaluated will be quarantined "if the risk of exposure warrants it." 

“We fervently pray that none of our healthcare staff will acquire the viral infection. As we make this wish, we plead and urge everyone to do his share in quelling the spread of this infection - especially our nation's duly elected leaders.”

Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act

Asked whether Pimentel could be held liable for the breach in quarantine protocols, Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete said that "those who have personal knowledge of the incident should file the complaint."

He added: "A warrantless arrest is allowed following the en flagrante delicto principle, in cases of hot pursuit, among others. Thus far, reports have not alleged circumstances establishing the requirements for any of these grounds."

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra had previously said that violators of the guidelines of the Enhanced Community Quarantine in Luzon could be arrested.

He also said police and other law enforcement agents may enforce arrest against violators of quarantines, “considering the gravity of the present situation,” under Republic Act 11332.

Republic Act 11332 is the “Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.”

It provides that the Secretary of Health may declare epidemics of national and/or international concerns, and the President “shall declare a State of Public Health Emergency and mobilize governmental and nongovernmental agencies to respond to the threat.”

It also penalizes "non-cooperation of the person or entities identified as having the notifiable disease, or affected by the health event of public concern."

(Editor's note: This article has been corrected to reflect that the statement that "those who have personal knowledge of the incident should file the complaint" was said by DOJ Undersecretary Markk Perete and not DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra. We apologize for the error.)

KOKO PIMENTEL MAKATI MEDICAL CENTER NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
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