#KokoResign trends after Pimentel admits quarantine breach

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 26) — Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel's recent admission of breaching quarantine protocol under the COVID-19 outbreak has sparked outrage among netizens and even celebrities online.

Actress and philantrophist Angel Locsin did not mince words after an old photo of her endorsing Pimentel during the 2007 elections resurfaced over the internet.

When asked if she regretted campaigning for him, Locin told netizens: "Yes. Super. Mortal sin. Patawarin niyo po ako bilang ex husband po siya ng pinsan ko (Forgive me because he was the former husband of my cousin)."

"You had yourself tested, you broke the quarantine guidelines, you visited a hospital, risking the health of the many doctors and nurses and patients there. Hindi mo nakuha yung memo ni influencer, 'no?? 'Di nag-iisip eh. Reckless endangerment 'yan di ba?"said celebrity Agot Isidro.

For other netizens, no one, even the senator, should be above the law.

"You reek of privilege and no one wants it. Pay for what you've done! #KokoResign #KokoKulong," @justkaraaa_ tweeted.

"Sorry not sorry...Your selfishness can kill people that help us fight this virus. You are the VIRUS!!!" #KokoResign," said @Chelli53431913.

As of Thursday afternoon, #KokoResign has garnered over 40,000 tweets.

A change.org petition among netizens has also been doing the rounds online, seeking to "expel Koko Pimentel from the Senate and charge him with violation of RA 9271 and RA 11332."

The petition, which seeks to get 50,000 signatures, has already gained 45,000 as of posting.

"We have to make people accountable for their actions and it is before the law that everyone is made equal," wrote Joven Elepano, who started the petition addressed to Sen. Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao.

Pimentel, who tested positive for the virus, has been drawing flak for visiting the Makati Medical Center and accompanying his wife Kathryna who was about to give birth.

The senator apologized Wednesday and reasoned that the issue was "farthest from [his] mind" as an expectant father.

Makati Medical Center Director Saturnino Javier called this move "reckless and unacceptable" after the senator exposed their health workers to potential infection.

But on the same day, the Department of Justice said that it would "temper" the law with compassion and would only investigate when it receives a complaint on PImentel's alleged breach.

"As I have said before, during abnormal times like these, when people are prone to commit mistakes or violations of the law, the DOJ will temper the rigor of the law with human compassion," Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.

Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete also noted that reports have not established so far grounds for a warrantless arrest of Pimentel for violating Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases for those who violate the public health protocol.

Under the law, non-cooperation of a person identified as having the notifiable disease, or affected by the health event of public concern may be fined ₱20,000 to ₱50,000 or up to six months of jail time.

“A warrantless arrest is allowed following the en flagrante delicto principle, in cases of hot pursuit, among others. Thus far, reports have not alleged circumstances establishing the requirements for any of these grounds," Perete said.