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High gov’t officials must follow COVID-19 protocols — Panelo

Malacañang on Thursday reminded high government officials to follow the quarantine guidelines aimed at curbing the spread of the deadly coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the statement after Senator Aquilino Pimentel III and ACT-CIS party-list Representative Eric Go Yap drew criticisms for allegedly violating self-quarantine rules.

Pimentel and Yap announced separately on Wednesday that they tested positive for COVID-19.

“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.

“They are not meant to discomfort or burden anyone. They have been established to ensure that public health and safety are secured at all times.”

Panelo said the health protocols exempt no one.

“Those holding high positions in the government are enjoined to set an example to their constituents by strictly observing them,” he added.

The Palace, meanwhile, left it to concerned agencies to act on any complaint against officials who allegedly breached protocols set by the Department of Health.

“The reports being aired in the open are, however, conflicting hence, 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,” he said.

Pimentel drew the ire of the Makati Medical Center and the public for alleged breach of his own quarantine for a then-suspected COVID-19 infection so he could accompany his pregnant wife to the hospital.

He has since apologized.

Yap, on the other hand, attended a meeting in Malacañang on March 21 to tackle a proposed measure seeking to grant additional powers to President Rodrigo Duterte to address the threat of COVID-19, despite having symptoms of the disease.

The party-list lawmaker also showed up on Monday at the special session of Congress which approved the special powers for the President. The Presidential Security Group said on Thursday it was ready to file charges against Yap if necessary for breach of COVID-19 protocols in Malacañang.

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

Duterte has placed Luzon under an enhanced community quarantine effective until midnight of April 13, imposing sweeping restrictions on travel, prohibiting mass gatherings and ordering residents to stay home unless they have to buy essentials. — RSJ, GMA News