MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Malacañang on Thursday, March 26, avoided calling out high-ranking lawmakers who broke quarantine protocols amid the coronavirus outbreak, saying government agencies should first find out the “true facts” of incidents involving officials.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement a day after Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and ACT-CIS Representative Eric Yap failed to observe strict quarantine measures put in place to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus disease.
The RITM, citing clerical error, said two days later that Yap “remains negative.” The fact remains, however, that he broke quarantine protocols while he was a person under investigation, and exposed several high-level government officials in the process.
Panelo said while Malacañang received reports on “certain officials” monitored for the coronavirus, “reports being aired in the open are however conflicting.”
“The Office of the President deems it appropriate that the same be formally evaluated by the concerned agencies upon a complaint or otherwise to ascertain the true facts behind the incidents,” he said.
‘True facts’: Yet officials’ breaches in quarantine have been confirmed by the Makati Medical Center, as in the case of Pimentel, as well as Yap himself.
Pimentel’s actions have been denounced by the public, as he insisted on bringing his pregnant wife to the Makati Medical Center despite experience symptoms of the disease. (READ: TIMELINE: When Pimentel tested positive for coronavirus)
The hospital slammed the senator’s “irresponsible and reckless” actions, saying he “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.”
Yap, meanwhile, attended a meeting in Malacañang on Saturday, March 21, even if he had not yet received the results of his coronavirus test taken on March 15. The lawmaker confirmed he contract the disease on Wednesday, March 26.
The Presidential Security Group slammed Yap for “endangering” Malacañang officials, including several Cabinet members who worked closely with President Rodrigo Duterte.
Public safety: Despite this, Panelo said health protocols on persons suspected to have the coronavirus disease must be “strictly followed…regardless of their socio-political status.”
“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,” he said.
The Department of Justice earlier said it will not immediately investigate Pimentel until a complaint is filed against him.
“During abnormal times like this, when people are prone to commit mistakes or violations of the law, the DOJ will temper the rigor of the law with human compassion. But this is not to say that the DOJ will not act upon the filing of a proper complaint by any interested party,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said. – Rappler.com