DOJ dismisses complaint vs Koko Pimentel on violating quarantine protocols

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 21, 2021   •   304

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) has dismissed the complaint against Senator Aquilino Pimentel due to a lack of probable cause.

Private lawyer and former law dean Rico Quicho filed a complaint against Pimentel for violating Republic Act No. 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events Act of 2018.

In March of last year, the Makati Medical Center (MMC) reported that the senator breached the MMC-Delivery Complex’s strict infection and containment protocols.

Quicho’s complaint alleged that Pimentel breached quarantine protocols after escorting his wife at the MMC while still undergoing quarantine.

In a statement, the Office of the Prosecutor-General said the Senator is not obliged to report under the said Republic Act since it is meant for public health authorities.

“Senator Koko Pimentel is not a public health authority (i.e. he is not the DOH, the RITM, the Epidemiology Bureau), therefore, not obliged to report under R.A. No. 11332. The mandatory reporting under R.A. No. 11332 was meant for public health authorities only,” according to the Office of the Prosecutor-General.

It added that Pimentel was also not aware of his condition when he was escorting his wife in the hospital and that he immediately cooperated upon learning of his condition.

“There was nothing to report then when he went to S&R BGC on 16 March 2020 or at MMC hospital on 24 March 2020 for Senator Koko Pimentel only knew or learned about his condition of being positive for COVID-19 on the same day – 24 March 2020, while he was already at the premises of the hospital,” the statement further reads.

Meanwhile, in a short statement, the senator welcomed the ruling of the DOJ.

“That decision is unassailable and correct. Tama naman yan. The complaint criminally charged me for violation of non-penal DOH issuances which are not even addressed to me. How can something non criminal all of a sudden become criminal when you are not even expected to be knowledgeable or an expert about their contents?” Pimentel said.

“And the person who charged me was not even anywhere near me or the place of the incident. Kakapagtaka why he became all of a sudden the source of the allegations,” he added.

On the other hand, Atty. Quicho expressed his dismay over the said verdict.

He pointed out how policies change “arbitrarily contingent on who receives the shorter end of a stick.”

“We are sadly reminded of a fish vendor in Quezon City who was violently arrested for failure to comply with government regulations. He was beaten with a stick, dragged, and humiliated in public,” Quicho said. -AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)


More frontliners in Manila register for city’s COVID-19 vaccination program

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—More frontliners in the city of Manila have pre-registered for the city’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination program.

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso said that the number of registrants increased from the initial 200 to 1,900 on Monday when the government launched its vaccination drive.

This is almost half of the total number of medical frontliners in six government hospitals in the city.

Maraming na-inspire na mga doctor at nurses. So, umakyat ng 1,900 ang aming nagparehistro. So, kaya ang payo ko, don’t miss the opportunity. Ang pinakamabisang bakuna ay ang bakunang nasa braso mo (A lot of doctors and nurses were inspired so 1,900 registered. My advice is to not miss the opportunity. The most effective vaccine is the vaccine injected in your arm), he said.

Domagoso assured vaccine registrants they can still choose the brand of vaccine they want to receive.

An initial 3,000 Sinovac vaccine vials have been delivered to Manila City which will be administered to 1,500 individuals. The city government aims to vaccinate one of the two doses within the week.

Meanwhile, Domagoso said he is waiting for a proper clearance before getting vaccinated as policy states that medical frontliners are the priority for the COVID-19 vaccines. AAC

PH detects 6 cases of South Africa COVID-19 variant, 30 new cases of UK variant

UNTV News   •   March 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has recorded six new cases of the B.1.351 variant (South Africa variant) of COVID-19; 30 additional cases of the B.1.1.7 variant (UK variant) and 2 cases additional cases with mutations of interest.

An official statement issued by the Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said, the new cases were among 8th batch of 350 samples sequenced by the UP-Philippine Genome Center.

Of the six South African variant cases, three are local cases, two are returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) and one case is still being verified as to location.

The three local cases were reported as residents of Pasay City. Meanwhile, the two returning overseas Filipinos arrived in the country from UAE and Qatar; their statuses are currently being verified. Moreover, the DOH is currently verifying if the sixth case is a local case or an imported case.

“To date, there are already 48 countries with reported cases of the B.1.351 variant. While there is no evidence that this variant causes more severe disease, the pattern of mutations within this variant suggests higher transmissibility and may have an impact on vaccine efficacy,” DOH said.

Meanwhile, of the 30 new cases of the UK variant 20 of these are ROFs; three are local cases, and seven are currently being verified if these are local cases or ROFs.

The 20 detected ROFs entered the country from the Middle East, Singapore, and the United States of America between January 20 and February 16, 2021. Thirteen (13) of these are asymptomatic active cases, while seven have now recovered.

On the other hand, the three (3) local B.1.1.7 variant cases are from the Cordillera Administrative Region.

One case is currently active and is admitted to a hospital, one has recovered, and one is a reported fatality. The relation of the 3 local cases to previously reported B.1.1.7 variant cases in the region is currently being investigated.

On the cases with mutations of interest, the latest sequencing results showed that two (2) additional samples from Region 7 were found to have both N501Y and E484K mutations.

The DOH reiterated that despite the arrival of the vaccines in the country, adherence to minimum public health standards is still the best course of action to prevent community transmission and further virus mutations.

San Juan Mayor Zamora contracts COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   March 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora confirmed on Monday that he has tested positive for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a Facebook post, Zamora said he is currently under quarantine at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center.

“I would like to announce that I have tested positive with COVID-19. My results came out today after a routine swab test yesterday evening, February 28, 2021. A confirmatory test was done today and the results turned out to be positive,” he said.

“I have decided to quarantine myself in Cardinal Santos Medical Center to ensure that I do not transmit the virus to anyone else in the community and to protect everyone around me including my children and my wife who is a cancer survivor,” he added.

I have tested positive for COVID-19. I am asymptomatic and in good physical condition. I have decided to quarantine…

Posted by Mayor Francis Zamora on Monday, March 1, 2021

He advised those who came in contact with him in the past few days to have themselves tested for the virus and coordinate with the City Health Office for the conduct of free RT-PCR test.

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