DOT orders Makati hotel to explain why woman in quarantine went to party

Job Manahan and Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 30 2021 08:38 PM | Updated as of Dec 30 2021 09:25 PM

Puyat: Woman admits cutting quarantine

MANILA (UPDATED)— The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Thursday issued a show cause order against Berjaya Hotel Makati following reports that one of its guests violated quarantine protocols and went to a bar party this month. 

In the letter, the DOT directed Berjaya to explain, within 3 days, why the person escaped the hotel's supervision. The agency also attached a social media post showing that the woman was present in one social gathering.

The woman, who was supposedly in mandatory quarantine after arriving from the US, later tested positive for COVID-19. Some of her close contacts in the party also caught the virus, according to reports. 

"It has come to the attention of DOT that Ms. Gwyneth Anne Chua, a guest of Berjaya Hotel Makati, was allegedly able to leave your hotel and was seen in a bar in Poblacion, Makati on 23 December 2021 despite being under mandatory quarantine," the DOT letter read. 

"In the interest of due process, you are hereby directed to submit to this Office.... a written explanation why the hotel should not be penalized for violation of the foregoing issuances," it added. 

Via the Department of Tourism
Via the Department of Tourism

Under the law, DOT said the hotel is liable for "intentionally providing misinformation and non-cooperation" of the people and entities over the reporting of diseases and health events that concern the public.

The hotel may be also liable for violating the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases' resolution on mandatory quarantine for arriving travelers. 

Here is a short timeline on Chua, according to the DOT: 

  • December 22, 2021 - Checked in Berjaya Hotel 
  • December 23, 2021 - Seen in gatherings through social media 
  • December 27, 2021 - Results showed she is positive for COVID-19 
  • December 29, 2021 - Pulled out from the hotel "for extraction" in coordination with the Bureau of Quarantine
Via the Department of Tourism
Via the Department of Tourism

The Department of Health (DOH) has criticized the incident, and said it is not the time to put people's lives in danger. 

ADMISSION

Berjaya Hotel Makati and the woman identified by the DOT have yet to issue public statements on the issue, as of posting.

In an interview over Teleradyo, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said Chua has admitted that she skipped quarantine. 

Puyat added that they have signed affidavits from the people she was with, that Chua was not in the hotel for her quarantine. 

"We have the signed affidavits, pictures, CCTV, and it was proven that she was not naka-quarantine," said Puyat.

“Pagka-alam ko, umamin na naman siya that she cut quarantine. Umamin naman siya," she added. 

(From what I know, she already admitted that she cut quarantine. She already admitted it.)

The DOT is also coordinating with authorities regarding the matter, Puyat said. It is up for relevant authorities to file charges against her. 

WHAT'S NEXT? 

The DOT will wait for the explanation of the hotel. From there, they would look into penalizing or suspending its accreditation. 

"We'll see first, I have to wait first kung ano yung explanation nila. Pero nung tinanong ko kung ano yung kaso ng individual na nag-cut ng quarantine. It could be a fine... or imprisonment or both," she explained. 

(When I asked what case could be filed against the individual, it could be a fine or imprisonment or both.)

Chua is currently under isolation in another hotel.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, meanwhile, said if proven that the hotel violated health protocols, his agency would recommend revoking its license and business permits. 

"It's actually putting the risk and the lives of our people in danger. Hindi puwede yan, tatanggap-tanggap ka ng accreditation, yun pala hindi mo sinusunod talaga yung alituntunin ng quarantine protocols," said Año. 

The country is currently experiencing a rise in COVID-19 cases, amid the threat of the more transmissible omicron variant. 

Earlier in the day, the country posted 1,623 new COVID-19 infections, nearly double than yesterday's tally (889). 

Health authorities attributed the recent spike in fresh cases to the increased mobility because of the holiday season, noting that it is so far unclear whether the omicron variant is driving it. 

The Philippines has 4 confirmed cases of the omicron variant. 

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