Culture of “VIP treatment” in the Philippines spotlighted following Koko Pimentel quarantine break

A media and social media storm now rages around Senator Koko Pimentel after he was found to have violated quarantine protocols after he accompanied his pregnant wife info the Makati Medical Center. Pimentel is in quarantine after an 11th March report that confirmed a Senate “resource speaker” was “positive for COVID-19”. This promoted several senators to go into self quarantine.

Pimentel had reportedly been to parties from the 10th to the 11th of March. It is therefore likely that many people who were directly as well once- or twice-removed contacts with Pimentel over those days could now be at risk of infection.

How authorities will treat this case is now under intense scrutiny. The Philippines is renowned as a society where laws are openly flouted by rich and poor alike. However much has been made of the way the rich and powerful enjoy conspicuous VIP treatment particularly evident in how they (some accompanied by private security escorts) routinely bulldoze through Manila’s gridlocked traffic, often counterflowing on the wrong side of the roads with impunity.

In many of those scenarios ordinary Filipinos and police officers alike routinely defer to status, credentials, and, most important of all, powerful connections.

The Koko Pimentel circus will be a test of whether the Philippines has changed specially in these times where strong government and complaint citizens are both important in the ongoing war against an enemy humanity has yet to fully understand.

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