By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang said Senator Koko Pimentel has no immunity from arrest for violating Makati Medical Center’s (MMC’s) quarantine protocols when he brought his pregnant wife to the hospital despite being positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In a radio interview, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Pimentel can be arrested for breaching quarantine protocols, saying the lawmaker was only immune during his speeches in the Senate.
“Iyong immunity papasok lamang iyon kung ikaw ay nasa loob ng Kongreso at nagbibigay ka ng pahayag during the special session (His immunity is only effective when he is in Congress and delivering a speech during the special session),” he told DZRH.
“Iba ho iyong ginawa niya, hindi siya immune doon. Walang immune doon (What he did was different. He’s not immune from suit because of that, nobody is),” he added,
Panelo reiterated that Pimentel would not have gone to MMC if he knew he was positive for COVID-19. He, however, said the lawmaker should have been more careful.
“Sabi niya hindi niya alam. Kung alam niya iyon, eh palagay ko ni hindi siya lalapit sa kaniyang asawa at sa kaniyang magiging anak sapagkat mahahawa at mabibingit sa kamatayan (He said he didn’t know. If he did, I think he would not have gone near his wife and child because he will put them in danger),” he said.
“Dapat naging mas maingat siya sapagkat sang-ayon sa kaniya nag-quarantine siya (He should’ve been more careful because according to him he already underwent quarantine),” he added.
The netizens sided with MMC in castigating Pimentel for visiting the hospital despite strict home quarantine protocols. The MMC said the senator added to the burden of medical staff responding to the pandemic as they now have to undergo quarantine.
In his radio interview, Panelo reminded government officials to follow official COVID-19 protocols and not violate quarantine rules.
“Hindi dapat na labagin ng sinuman, ikaw man ay ordinaryong tao, mayaman na tao, opisyal ka (No one should violate the protocols, whether you are an ordinary citizen, a rich person, or a government official),” Panelo said.
“Kaya iyan po ipinatutupad, hindi upang pahirapan ka, hindi upang bigyan ka ng discomfort – kung hindi upang bigyan ka ng proteksiyon sa sarili mo at proteksiyon ng iyong kapwa (Those protocols are being implemented not to burden anyone or give them discomfort, but to protect them and the people around them),” he added.
Last week, Malacañang said government officials are not exempted from the quarantine examples and therefore should set an example to the public.
“There are no exemptions for any person on these health protocols. Those holding high positions in the government are enjoined to set an example to their constituents by strictly observing them,” Panelo said in a statement.