Makati hospital berates Sen. Pimentel for violating quarantine protocols

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 25) — Makati Medical Center on Wednesday castigated Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, who tested positive for COVID-19, for visiting the hospital despite strict home quarantine protocols.

The hospital management in a statement denounced Pimentel — who accompanied his pregnant wife to the hospital — for unduly exposing health care workers to COVID-19. It said the former Senate President added to the "burden" of the medical staff responding to the coronavirus disease outbreak.

“He violated his home quarantine, exposed health workers to possible infection, and therefore, to me, that is reckless and unacceptable,” Makati Medical Center Medical Director Saturnino Javier told CNN Philippines’ News Night.

After several senators voluntary placed themselves on self-quarantine following interaction with a resource person who later tested positive for COVID-19, Pimentel said he hardly left his house since March 11 — but admitted to attending two birthday parties, a meeting, and a Senate session.

He admitted that during his quarantine, he experienced high fever, slight sore throat, body pains, and diarrhea — all flu-like symptoms related to COVID-19 — prior to his test.

Pimentel had himself tested for the virus on March 20. He said he learned about the positive results while he was at the hospital with his wife Kathryna on March 24. He said he immediately informed her doctor and left the hospital.

Javier said, if the senator was not yet aware of his test result, he should have taken extra precaution, considering his colleague Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri tested positive for COVID-19.

“If you have a colleague who is positive, all the more you should be extra careful and you should consider yourself to have the infection,” Javier said.

Pimentel apologized for accompanying his wife Kathryna, who was about to give birth, effectively breaching infection control protocols at the Makati Medical Center.

For Pimentel, however, his trip to the hospital was “essential.”

“Yung quarantine kasi for non-essential movement. From my point of view, manganganak ‘yung misis ko. Sinong kasama yung misis mo? Eh ‘di ikaw,” he said.

[Translation: Quarantine is for non-essential movement. From my point of view, my wife was about to give birth. Who would accompany your wife in that case? Of course it’s you.]

Javier said two to three of Makati Med's personnel are now on quarantine, while their delivery room complex had to be disinfected after the couple entered the delivery room complex where Kathryna was examined.

Pimentel’s wife earlier denied rumors that her husband entered the delivery room.

She added that she herself did not enter the delivery room as she was required to get a swab test first before giving birth.


Javier and the hospital did not say whether or not they will be filing charges against Pimentel.

But for University of the Philippines law professor John Molo, Pimentel can face a string of charges and penalties.

Among the possible penalties are disbarment and suspension or expulsion from the Senate for unparliamentary behavior.

Molo said Pimentel may also be fined up to ₱50,000 or face a jail term of one to six months for failing to disclose that he is suspected of having COVID-19.

For violating the enhanced community quarantine, Molo said Pimentel can be fined between ₱10,000 and ₱50,000 or jailed for up to a year.

Molo added that Pimentel could also be sued for criminal negligence, disobedience to agents of a person in authority, graft and corruption and for damages.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said they “will temper the rigor of the law with human compassion” as people are prone to commit violations “during abnormal times like these.”

“But this is not to say that the DOJ (Department of Justice) will not act upon the filing of a proper complaint by any interested party,” Guevarra said.

He added that they will determine if the National Bureau of Investigation should probe the incident.

CNN Philippines Justice Correspondent Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.