Philippine government officials were told yesterday they were not exempt from restrictions set under a month-long lockdown after two legislators who tested positive for coronavirus were accused of breaching quarantine protocols. Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the restrictions for suspected infected persons “must be strictly and absolutely observed by all people regardless of their socio-political status.”
“There are no exemptions for any person on these health protocols,” he said in a statement.”
Those holding high positions in the government are enjoined to set an example to their constituents by strictly observing them.” The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Philippines rose to 707 yesterday, after the Department of Health reported 71 new patients.
Seven more died, bringing the death toll to 45, while 28 have recovered, it added. Panelo’s warning came after Senator Aquilino Pimentel III and Congressman Eric Yap were criticised for allegedly breaching the quarantine protocols by not staying at home when they were waiting for their test results. Yap attended a meeting at the Malacanang presidential palace on Saturday, but President Rodrigo Duterte was not at the event. Due to this, Duterte was stopped from personally attending meetings with government officials, said security chief Colonel Jesus Durante III.
“The last (inter-agency task force) meeting was conducted via video conference call. We still have a skeletal force in the (Malacanang presidential) palace and we are reminding them to please co-operate with us,” he said. “The bottom line is we are fighting Covid-19. This is for the safety and good health of everyone, not only the president,” he added.
Durante said Yap misdeclared his condition in a form that all visitors to Malacanang are required to fill in. “If really needed, we could file a case against him for the breach,” he said. “He really endangered everyone inside the palace.”
The Office of the Ombudsman is looking into an investigation against Pimentel, who accompanied his wife to hospital despite waiting for results of his test, which turned out to be positive, and having symptoms of Covid-19. Pimentel has apologised for “the very unfortunate incident” but a group of lawyers are also planning to file a case against him. “How can you expect everyone to stay at home when you have a senator ignoring the rules?” said lawyer Rico Quicho, a former dean of a Manila law school who is part of the group preparing criminal, civil charges against Pimentel.
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