(March 26, 2020) – The country’s health chief on Thursday said he agrees with the stand of a private hospital in its allegation that a senator, who had tested positive for the coronavirus, breached the institution’s protocols by entering one of its facilities.
On Tuesday night, Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III accompanied his wife to the Makati Medical Center (MMC) for the delivery of their child. The hospital alleged that he did so despite a pending test result for COVID-19, potentially exposing health care workers at the delivery room complex to the virus.
“Kami po ay sumasang-ayon na nagkaroon ng breach sa quarantine protocol at hindi dapat nangyari ito,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a virtual press briefing on Thursday.
Duque’s remarks echo that of many, not the least of which are members of the country’s medical industry, who had been struggling to man the frontlines in the fight against the contagious disease.
The health chief also denied allegations that he intervened on behalf of the senator so that his wife can be admitted to the hospital.
“Hindi po ako tumawag sa Makati Medical Center para makiusap na kanilang tanggapin sa kanilang ospital ang asawa ni Sen. Koko Pimentel,” he said.
In a strongly worded statement, MMC medical director Dr. Saturnino Javier said Pimentel only exacerbated problems at the hospital, which is grappling with a depleted workforce while trying to respond to an escalating coronavirus crisis.
Pimentel has since apologized to the hospital and appealed for understanding, but it did not stop the criticisms nor demands for a probe, and even calls for his resignation.
The office of the Ombudsman said its officials are set to discuss a possible investigation into the lawmaker’s actions.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, on the other hand, said a formal complaint has to be filed first before it can launch a probe. He also asked for compassion in these hard times.
“During abnormal times like these, when people are prone to commit mistakes or violations of the law, the DOJ will temper the rigor of the law with human compassion,” he said.
On One News on Wednesday night, Javier said he will leave it to the hospital if it wishes to file raps against Pimentel. (Christian de Lano Deiparine/JMF)
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