Boxing champion turned senator Manny Pacquiao falsely remarked that the Philippines was not yet affected by COVID-19 when PDP-Laban held a party in his residence on March 4, that was attended by fellow senator Koko Pimentel.
The boxer-politician made this remark in an interview on Thursday.
Pacquiao was interviewed by CNN Philippines’ Pia Hontiveros regarding Pimentel’s breach of quarantine protocols since the former is the chair of the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges.
Pimentel was under fire for violating the home quarantine protocols on COVID-19 when he accompanied his wife to the Makati Medical Center and exposed frontliners to the possibility of being infected on March 24.
The private hospital’s director, Saturnino Javier, said that Pimentel’s action to leave the house despite being ill was “irresponsible” and “reckless.”
It was also discovered that the senator went to supermarket S&R Membership Shopping‘s Taguig City branch on March 16 and exposed its workers as well.
Reports noted that Pimentel had already been experiencing symptoms such as body pains on March 14, three days after Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian had announced that a resource person in a March 5 hearing tested positive for COVID-19.
Despite the protocol breach, the Department of Justice said that it will not yet investigate the legislator until a formal complaint has been filed.
Political party PDP-Laban similarly said that it would not take action over Pimentel, who serves as its president.
The PDP-Laban gathering
Pacquiao likewise said that his committee cannot act on Pimentel’s breach until they receive a complaint despite the hospital’s statement against the latter.
Earlier, Pimentel maintained that he only had limited movement during his visit to the MMC.
He, however, disclosed that he previously attended parties, a meeting and a plenary session, with the latest held Monday during the Congress special session for President Rodrigo Duterte’s special powers.
An alleged video of the supposed parties surfaced on social media where Pacquiao can be seen standing near Pimentel at some point while the latter was shaking hands with people.
Just so all the trapos will come clean and be honest with the public pic.twitter.com/XSjq21V1TQ
— MGB (@mgb819) March 26, 2020
The event on the video was later on determined to be the PDP-Laban get-together in Pacquiao’s residence.
When Hontiveros asked Pacquiao of the incident, the senator responded that the country was not yet dealing with COVID-19 at that time.
“Noong time na ‘yon, wala pa ‘yung corona, ‘yung coronavirus issue dito sa Pilipinas,” he said.
This momentarily caught Hontiveros off-guard, who repeated the date.
“Sir, ano, ‘yung March 4 party?” she asked.
“Oo, noong time na ‘yon, wala pa ‘yung coronavirus issue dito sa Pilipinas,” Pacquaio repeated.
Hontiveros reiterated that she was talking about the March 4 party but he continuously insisted that COVID-19 has not yet reached the Philippines during which.
Filipino online community called Pacquiao out for being uninformed about the happenings on the country despite occupying a seat in the legislative branch of the republic.
“March 4 wala pang coronavirus issue sa Pilipinas? FYI (For your information), January 30 pa lang may reported coronavirus case na sa Pilipinas,” humanitarian activist and Palanca Award-winning writer Ogie Rosa tweeted.
“Bilang opisyal, paano n’yo mapoproteksyonan ang mga mamamayan kung wala kayong alam sa mga nangyayari sa bayan?” he added.
The first case of COVID-19 in the Philippines was confirmed on January 30. The first case recorded is a 38-year-old female Chinese national who came from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.
She arrived in the Philippines on January 21 and was admitted on in hospital on January 25. She eventually tested negative for the viral disease on February 6.
By March 4, the country had three cases of COVID-19 already.
A day after Pacquiao’s interview with Hontiveros, the senator’s neighbors in an exclusive village in Makati City asked him to self-quarantine at his house.
“For your own family and household’s safety, please have yourself self quarantined, STAY HOME. No one including any of your household can come out,” a letter from the Barangay Dasmariñas homeowners reads.
“If you need something, please call the barangay… We can procure things for you and send it to your doorstep,” it added.
“Please be a model example,” the letter concluded.
Pacquiao was previously criticized for not wearing a face mask and observing social distance when he attended a turnover ceremony where he donated face masks to the frontliners and uniformed personnel.
This, despite the government’s move to ban mass gatherings in the country.
He was also quoted by a news outlet as saying that he was “not afraid to die” as he vowed to help Filipinos amid the health crisis.
“If you are a leader, you have to be a frontliner,” Pacquiao earlier said.
“Leader ka so you have to lead and let people see that you are with them. Hindi ka dapat magtago dahil takot ka mamatay,” he added.