The Daily Manila Shimbun


Palace says violators of health protocols, including gov’t officials, to be dealt with according to law

March 26, 2020

Malacanang said on Thursday that there are no exemptions, including those holding high positions in government, on health protocols and violators should be dealt with in accordance with law.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the statement after administration Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III allegedly breached the protocols when he brought his pregnant wife at the Makati Medical Center despite being a person under monitoring for possible infection of coronavirus disease.

Pimentel, who underwent a test, was confirmed positive for COVID-19 when the result came out on Wednesday night, the time when he went to MMC.

"The protocols set by the government for persons under investigation or monitoring must be strictly and absolutely observed by all people falling under the said categories, regardless of their socio-political status," Panelo said.

He said the protocols were not meant to discomfort or burden anyone but have been established to ensure that public health and safety are secured at all times.

"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," said Panelo, who is also the chief presidential legal counsel.

"The equal protection clause of the Constitution imposes equal treatment to all. Any transgressor therefore must be dealt with in accordance with law," he said.

Aside from Pimentel, the Presidential Security Group has also accused party-list Rep. Eric Go Yap of the protocols when he failed to disclose in the declaration form that he was PUM when he went to Malacanang on March 21 to join in a meeting with other lawmakers and Cabinet officials. Yap was also later confirmed positive for COVID-19.

While high-ranking officials were not exempted in the health protocols, Panelo said that the reports regarding some government officials were "conflicting."

Thus, he said, "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." 

Aside from going to MMC to assist his wife, Pimentel was also confirmed, through the CCTV footage, to have been shopping at S&R Bonifacio Global City on March 16.

"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," S&R said in a statement on its Facebook page.

S&R said it reviewed its CCTV after a post circulating online on March 25 about Pimentel seen shopping at its store at BGC.

Pimentel earlier said since the last day of session in the Senate on March 11, he had already tried his best to limit his movement.

In a Senate hearing shortly before the adjournment of session, one of the resource persons was later confirmed to be infected by COVID-19, prompting some lawmakers to undertake tests. Pimentel took his on March 20 and the result came out on the night of March 24. Celerina Monte/DMS