The special ̶p̶o̶w̶e̶r̶s̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶ Koko Pimentel | Inquirer Opinion
Kris-Crossing Mindanao

The special ̶p̶o̶w̶e̶r̶s̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶ Koko Pimentel

By his own admission, he was on self-quarantine: “I quarantined myself since March 11, 2020, and already tried to limit my movements.” His wife’s own words: “He had been in quarantine for weeks in a separate bedroom.” (N.B. “for weeks”) Let’s be somber and check how the Koko Pimentels fare vis-à-vis the following Filipinos in similar circumstances:

A 60-year-old man in Caloocan died last Saturday because the injudiciously planned lockdown prevented him from getting transport to his dialysis sessions. His thrice-weekly dialysis was his only chance to live a productive life, but he had lost access to the treatment. In just a week of lockdown, his body had bloated. He died of kidney failure. But for Koko and his wife, they had the privilege to forum-shop for hospitals. Denied at one hospital, they proceeded to Makati Medical Center.


The brothers Gerald and Mark Libiran are both in the health care frontlines. Gerald is an aide at the Philippine Orthopedic Center who works 10 hours a day, three times a week. Mark, his brother, works at the National Children’s Hospital where he had just completed four days straight duty. The brothers were on a motorcycle to take the two-hour ride to their Santa Maria, Bulacan home. With no public conveyances, that was their only way to reach home and rest for the next hospital duty. They were flagged down for violating the prohibition on back rides, despite showing work identification cards. “My heart sunk when I learned that the penalty was P5,000. That’s half of my salary for the month,” said Gerald. But for the Pimentels, the license plates of a senator’s car facilitate ease of entry, plus other support vehicles for bodyguards.

The 69-year-old homeless Dorothy Espejo sleeps on the pavements of Malate. She was apprehended by law enforcers, booked at the police station for a mug shot and charged with resistance to authority. But to where could a destitute itinerant have gone home? A home for Dorothy is government’s solution. The arresting police instead told her they needed to set an example. Yet for Koko, the justice secretary was quick to say, “The DOJ will temper the rigor of the law with human compassion.”


Koko said his self-quarantine started March 11, the last day of the Senate sessions. We all know the Senate became pestilent after a committee hearing resource person had later tested positive. We go by his own account that led to his self-quarantine: March 14 he started having body pains and flu symptoms; he then slept in a room separate from his wife; March 18 he had a 38-degree fever and sore throat. He was correct for following the protocol that as a person under monitoring (he came from a risk area, he manifested the symptoms), self-quarantine was required.

Let’s be redundant to take his word for it: he tried to limit his movements and slept in a separate bedroom. On March 16, five days after his self-imposed quarantine, he went shopping at the membership club S&R at Bonifacio Global City. He checked out at counter 13 at 1:59 p.m. He breached his home quarantine protocol. He lied. CCTV cameras did not.

Grocery workers are frontliners, too, for being at the receiving end of viral risk. When Koko’s test came out on March 24, S&R BGC had to quarantine those within contagious distance of the self-quarantined-but-lied former Senate president.

The homeless Dorothy Espejo is in jail but not Koko who did not use his kokote. Dr. Israel Bactol and others who succumbed but got their positive test results only after they had died is not pardonable when the Marcos family got theirs in only a day. In a pandemic of chasm between the rich and the poor, the defenseless perish first.

Koko Pimentel and a government with no compulsion to protect its citizens have just prescribed the recipe for mass panic and mass contagion. Bong Go can go breach the Metro Manila quarantine again when a fire breaks out in another city like he did in Butuan City.

Mediocrities of haughty entitlements and militarism to solve a medical crisis? Strikethrough all VIP entitlements.

On Twitter: @AntonioJMontal2. Email: [email protected]

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TAGS: Antonio Montalvan II, Aquilino Pimentel III, coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19, Koko Pimentel, Kris-Crossing Mindanao, Luzon quarantine
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