MANILA - Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III went grocery shopping at the S&R branch at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig on March 16, prompting a quarantine of store clerks exposed to the coronavirus carrier, the membership supermarket said Thursday.
The date falls two days after Pimentel, by his own account, first experienced body aches and flu. At that point, several senators had gone on quarantine for exposure to a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) carrier at a March 5 Senate hearing.
In a Facebook post, S&R said it checked its CCTVs and confirmed with front-end personnel following reports that Pimentel was recently seen at the BGC branch.
"It was confirmed that the senator was at the S&R BGC on March 16, 2020. CCTV footage showed him checking out at counter 13 at exactly 1:59 p.m.," it said.
"As a result, S&R employees who were in contact with the senator were already placed in quarantine. S&R BGC also took extra disinfection steps," it said.
On the day Pimentel went grocery shopping, his Senate colleague, Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, had just announced that he was positive for the virus.
On Wednesday, March 25, Pimentel bared that he was also found positive with the contagious coronavirus disease.
As it confirmed the senator's recent visit at its BGC branch, the supermarket told its members that it has taken measures to protect its stores against the spread of infection.
"We disinfect our stores daily and ascertain that our staff are clear prior to work. Shopping cars and handles, front-end belts, item shelves, and registers are kept clean every single day. Our employees are constantly reminded of the safety precautions regarding the virus," S&R said.
"To fight COVID-19, we at S&R will respond with compassion, prayer and service," it said.
The supermarket's statement came as the senator drew uproar for going to the Makati Medical Center on Tuesday night to accompany his pregnant wife who was due to deliver their first child.
It was inside the hospital that he learned that he was carrying the virus. Pimentel said he hurriedly left. The next day he announced his diagnosis.
The Makati Medical Center on Wednesday issued a scathing rebuke of Pimentel for going to the hospital even while supposed to be on home quarantine, breaking protocol. The hospital called Pimentel's act "irresponsible" and "reckless."
Pimentel apologized, saying he "never intended to harm anyone" for his hospital visit.
The lawmaker earlier said he had also recently attended two parties and a meeting.