The overall mood of the Philippine internet has been swinging back and forth through the different stages of grief since the announcement of community quarantines all over the country. Tonight, we’ve pretty much settled on anger. Why? One senator tested positive for COVID-19 and has allegedly exposed hospital staff and patients to the highly contagious virus by not disclosing his status as a PUI (person under investigation). Here’s the gist of the Koko Pimentel brouhaha and why the internet is so enraged about it.
We’re getting multiple versions of the events that happened, but here’s the gist of what broke out on social media via multiple screencaps: Senator Pimentel went to Makati Medical Center (MMC) last night with his pregnant wife to the maternity ward, as their child was due for delivery via cesarean section. However, it turns out that he had tested positive for COVID-19. Only when his private doctor called the hospital did he admit to being a PUI. By then, he had exposed multiple healthcare workers to the virus.
He says he didn’t know he was infected
While some social media posts have accused the senator of knowing about his diagnosis before going to MMC, he says that he only learned that he was positive once he was in the hospital. This story was corroborrated by his wife Kathryna Yu-Pimentel, who told CNN that contrary to the rumors, he did not enter the delivery room.
“He went with me sa Makati Med yesterday to be admitted, not knowing he was COVID-positive yet,” she said. “Then RITM called him around 9pm that he was positive. As soon as he found out he was positive he left me already and told my OB about his situation.”
She also told CNN that Senator Pimentel had been self-quarantined for weeks and that they hadn’t shared a room for 10 days. However, he joined her at the hospital because he wanted to witness the delivery of their first child.
But wait, there’s more
Ongoing FB convo on this. It appears that Koko & wife were turned down by hosp. for they were full BUT the SENATOR called up DOH Sec. Duque who in turn called up the hospital.
Hosp. mgt. is trying to decide on what to do. Delivery room personnel are now quarantined. 😡😡😡 pic.twitter.com/n6EXtWmcXi
— elizabeth angsioco (@bethangsioco) March 25, 2020
Yesterday afternoon, MMC announced that they had reached maximum capacity for COVID-19 cases. However, Senator Pimentel allegedly strong-armed his way into getting admitted into MMC by calling up Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque.
What we know: He was symptomatic
Senator Pimentel confirmed to the press that he has a sore throat and a cough. On March 14, he experienced body pains and the flu. On March 18, he had a 38-degree fever and diarrhea.
“Now body is back to normal with the usual aches felt even without the flu,” he said.
What we know: He broke quarantine
Knowing that he had these symptoms and that he was supposedly awaiting his test results, one has to ask: why was he walking around a hospital with his pregnant wife?
Senator Pimentel told the media that his staff is checking his schedule to help with contact tracing. He had attended birthday parties (yes, plural), as well as a meeting and a session. All this, in spite of telling the public to practice social distancing.
Pimentel on contact tracing: Tinatawagan ko ang staff ko to check my schedule. I attended birthday parties. I attended a meeting, a session
— CNN Philippines (@cnnphilippines) March 25, 2020
What we know: He did not apologize Though he thanked the frontliners for “putting their lives at risk on a daily basis to bring a halt to this pandemic”, he did not acknowledge that he had exposed medical personnel and patients by not disclosing his status as a PUI. Because of his careless actions, a number of nurses and doctors are now quarantined, further draining the hospital’s workforce. But as of this writing, he has not publicly apologized.
What we know: He made a non-apology
This was Senator Pimentel’s version of an apology, as reported by CNN Philippines:
“I’m sorry that this happened. Farthest from my mind ‘yun. I am an expectant father, sinamahan ko ‘yung (I accompanied my) wife ko who was supposed to give birth without finding na positive po ako (that I am positive).
“Yung quarantine kasi for non-essential movement. From my point of view, manganganak ‘yung misis ko. Sinong kasama yung misis mo? Eh ‘di ikaw.”
What are the penalties for not being honest with your doctors?
Filipinos across the political spectrum disagree on many things, but it seems as though the majority has finally found common ground in their outrage over Senator Pimentel’s actions. The penalty for withholding information on possible exposure are:
- a cash penalty of Php 20,000 to Php 50,000,
- or imprisonment of one to six months,
- or both.
Your honesty will go a long way in protecting our healthcare frontline warriors! Protect yourself and the people around you by providing truthful accurate information.#FightTheVirus #MakatiMedOfficial pic.twitter.com/w56ImANeo1
— Makati Medical Center (@IamMakatiMed) March 23, 2020
Makati Med’s statement has no chill
MMC released a statement earlier this evening, and they did not mince their words. They. Are. Pissed. (And rightfully so.)
“We denounce the irresponsible and reckless action of the senator,” the statement reads. “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.
“More than anyone else, Mr. Pimentel should have realized the ardent desire of every well-meaning Filipino and every dedicated healthcare institution to contain the spread of the infection. His admonition for everyone to observe social distancing, enhanced community quarantine measures, washing of hands and personal hygiene are nothing but empty rhetoric because he himself violated all those.
“By his actions, he contributed no solution. In fact, he created another problem — for Makati Medical Center, the very institution which embraced his wife for obstetric care.”
The hospital assured the public that they have decontaminated the Makati Medical Center Delivery Room Complex, and that the facility is safe for use.
Kaloka, mga cyst.
What do you think of Koko Pimentel and how he handled COVID-19 diagnosis?