MANILA - Fontana Leisure Park in Pampanga was closed and placed on lockdown after authorities found an alleged makeshift health facility there for Chinese patients, the Clark Development Corporation (CDC) and police said Wednesday.
Two Chinese nationals are under police custody and facing criminal complaints following Monday's raid at Florida 2, Villa 628 of the Fontana Resort & Convention Center inside Clark Freeport Zone, police said.
Maj. Kim Dominic Gamboa of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in the region said initial information indicated that the villa was turned into a health facility exclusively for Chinese nationals, regardless of the kind of illness. There was no patient though at the time of the raid.
The apprehended Chinese nationals included a 45-year-old man who allegedly owns the facility, and a 38-year-old woman who is an alleged pharmacist, the CDC said.
The CIDG Region 3 said in a statement that authorities, including from the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health in the region, acted on information that the villa "is operating as a Health Facility and Pharmacy with Chinese-labeled medicine catering to the services of Chinese national without pertinent permits and documents."
Aside from apprehending the two Chinese nationals, samples of the Chinese medicines were also collected for verification and examination, the police said.
"This illegal activity not only violates the law, but also poses danger to individuals who potentially need medical treatment for the deadly disease. CDC does not and will never tolerate this inside the Clark Freeport," the CDC said.
The management of the resort will also be held into account for "allowing this to happen within their property," the CDC added.
"We assure Clark stakeholders, the locators, local communities and residents especially, that we will not stop until all those involved are prosecuted and punished."
COVID-19 testing czar Secretary Vince Dizon said those in the area will undergo tests for the novel coronavirus.
“Fa-file-an natin ng mga kaso ‘yung mga responsable diyan. Hindi pwedeng magtayo ng kahit anong underground COVID-19 facility. Lahat ng andun ay isa-subject natin to immediate swabbing and testing. Hindi sila makakalabas sa Fontana. Under heavily armed guard ang Fontana ngayon,” Dizon said.
(We will file cases against those responsible for that. Establishing any underground COVID-19 facility is not allowed. Everyone there will be subjected to immediate swabbing and testing. They can't leave Fontana. Currently, Fontana is under heavily armed guards.)
“It serves as a warning to other groups who may be doing this… Bawal ‘yan. Hindi pwede ‘yan. ‘Pag mayroon nadiskubre, ipapasara yan at yung responsible ipapa-aresto,” he added.
(That is illegal. That is not allowed. If we discover anything, we will shut it down and arrest those responsible for that.)
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the Immigration bureau has been instructed to coordinate with the Philippine National Police and the local government to trace all those who sought treatment in the unauthorized medical facility.
"If found, they will be brought to legitimate hospitals or quarantine facilities for proper treatment, without prejudice to charging those responsible for this illegal operation," Guevarra said.
According to police, cases for violation of the Food and Drug Administration law (RA 9711) and the Medicine Act of 1958 (RA 2382) are being prepared against the two Chinese nationals and the registered tenant of the villa.
The Philippines' first three confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are Chinese visitors who came from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the disease originated.
The country has so far logged 13,221 cases of the disease, as of Wednesday, including 842 who have died and 2,932 who recovered.
--With reports from John Mark Guda, Gracie Rutao, Vivienne Gulla, and Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News