MANILA — The Department of Health on Friday confirmed that it endorsed the complaint against Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III for breaching COVID-19 quarantine protocols last March.
“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 when asked about the complaint filed by Atty. Rico Quicho.
Quicho, who is also a former law dean of the University of Makati, posted on social media on Thursday 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, accusing Pimentel of violating the said law when he accompanied his pregnant wife to Makati Medical Center on March 24, 4 days after he underwent testing for COVID-19. He later tested positive.
The former law dean said the senator “blatantly violated laws, which put the lives and health of frontliners and even ordinary citizens at grave risk.”
Vergeire said the endorsement of the complaint is part of their regular 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."
(The DOH is usually administrative but with regard to this, there is another process that is needed so we have submitted it to the proper authority. So this is our regular process when we receive this kinds of complaints.)
Pimentel was quoted saying earlier this week that the complaint against him is “fatally defective” since it is based on news reports and should be considered hearsay.
The Makati Medical Center issued a statement chastising the senator, a day after the incident happened. "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 hospital head wrote.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III also acknowledged the breach in protocol, saying it “should not have happened.”