PNP includes parents in complaint against “quarantine jumper”


Home Secretary Eduardo Año and Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Police on Tuesday filed a criminal complaint against a Filipino woman who broke quarantine rules and eight others, including her parents, who allegedly helped her avoid mandatory five-day isolation after her return of the United States before last Christmas.

PNP’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) said that Gwyneth Anne Chua and the others violated Republic Law No.13332, or the Law on Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Events. health concerns of public health concern.

In complaints it filed with the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office, CIDG said Chua and the others failed to cooperate and abided by quarantine orders and violated terms and conditions. directives issued by public health authorities under section 1 (g) (iii) and (iv) of article XI of the implementing regulations.

According to CIDG, Chua arrived at Ninoy Aquino International Airport on December 22 and checked into the Berjaya Makati Hotel at 11:23 pm Shortly after, her father picked her up in a sport utility vehicle.

On December 23, security camera footage showed Chua having dinner at Mijo Comfort Food restaurant in Makati City’s Barangay Poblacion. She then went to the Japanese restaurant-bar Kampai, also in Poblacion. Kampai said in a statement that she arrived at 10 p.m. and stayed there until around 1 a.m. the next day.

Chua returned to Berjaya on December 25 accompanied by her mother. She underwent a swab test the next day and was informed on December 27 that she was positive for COVID-19. She was then transferred to another hotel for isolation.

CIDG said it had not found sufficient evidence to file criminal complaints against the people she interacted with at the restaurant and bar who were ultimately infected with COVID-19.

“However, CIDG recommends and encourages such persons to file a complaint with CIDG for subsequent referral to the prosecutor’s office,” he said in a statement.

The Department of Health (DOH) said seven of 11 people Chua had close contact with, three of 26 who had “general contact” with her and one in five second-generation contacts had all tested positive for COVID. -19.

The DOH, however, did not categorically say they were all infected with Chua. He also did not disclose which variant of the coronavirus – whether Delta or Omicron – that Chua and the others were infected with.

The other respondents in the complaints were identified by CIDG as Chua’s father, Allan, and mother, Gemma; Rico Atienza, her boyfriend; Gladiolyn Biala, Managing Director of Berjaya; Den Sabayo, deputy manager of the hotel reception; Tito Arboleda, responsible for security at Berjaya; Esteban Gatbonton, hotel porter; and Hannah Araneta, front desk staff.

Another case

Home Secretary Eduardo Año said another Filipino woman who arrived from abroad on the same day as Chua also allegedly skipped her five-day quarantine at Seda residences in Makati.

Año told dzBB radio on Tuesday that instead of checking in at Seda, she boarded a car waiting for her at the hotel. The car took her to her condominium at Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City.

Police said the woman, whom she did not identify, claimed in social media posts that she had been exempted by the Quarantine Bureau (BOQ) from mandatory quarantine. The BOQ denied this.

In accordance with the regulations for quarantine facilities, Seda reported to the BOQ and the Tourism Ministry that the woman was a “no-show,” according to Año.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said earlier that the woman even went for a massage and shared a video of it on social media.

Suspicion of “racket”

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Tuesday he also ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to “fully investigate possible willful violations” of mandatory quarantine regulations by travelers, from their arrival until their stay in hotels or their home.

According to him, Chua was only the “tip of the iceberg”.

He suspected that there was a “racketeering” for many “quarantine jumpers” from the airport.

“Instead of being taken to quarantine facilities, passengers could be allowed to return directly to their homes or other locations,” he said in a radio interview.

RA 11332 is punishable by a fine of P 20,000 to P 50,000 and / or imprisonment for one month to six months.

And the VIPs?

Two other prominent people were charged with health protocol violations in 2020 — Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, who visited his wife at Makati Medical Center after testing positive for COVID-19, and former PNP chief Debold Sinas for ignoring physical estrangement during the celebration of his 55th birthday while serving as Metro Manila Police Chief while the country was still under enhanced community quarantine.

The Justice Ministry had cleared Pimentel while Taguig’s prosecutor had yet to decide whether Sinas should be charged in court.

Berjaya publicly apologized for the “very serious violation” and said that “any employee found to be erring by commission or omission will be severely punished to deter a repeat of what happened”.

Asked to comment in an interview with the ANC on Tuesday whether Chua should be declared persona non grata by the city, Makati Mayor Abby Binay said it would be “petty” and such a decision was “reserved for someone. ‘one who really deserves it. “

“She is young, she is callous, but she will have to suffer the consequences,” Binay said. She advised those who had been affected by Chua’s actions to bring a civil action for damages against her.

—WITH A REPORT BY TINA G. SANTOS

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