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â14-day quarantine for resort guestsâ
CLOSED: The Gubat sa Ciudad resort in Caloocan City has been ordered closed by the local government after allowing a large crowd in its pool on Mother’s Day.
Caloocan Police Photo

‘14-day quarantine for resort guests’

Sheila Crisostomo, Marc Jason Cayabyab (The Philippine Star) - May 11, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The hundreds who flouted strict quarantine rules to visit a popular resort in Caloocan City on Mother’s Day last Sunday should be made to undergo 14-day quarantine as they may have contracted or spread COVID-19, the Department of Health (DOH) said yesterday.

“They have to undergo quarantine for 14 days, all of them, so we can ensure that there will be no transmission among them,” DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told reporters.

She called the incident at the Gubat sa Ciudad resort “saddening” as “we are doing all efforts to contain this disease.”

She said the DOH regional office for the National Capital Region had already been advised to closely monitor those who gathered at the resort over the weekend.

“We are still in MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine). Everyone knows we cannot just go anywhere we want,” she added.

The official said the management of the resort should have known better. “They came because you allowed it. If you did not open the resort, they would not come for swimming,” she added, addressing the resort owner.

At a briefing, presidential spokesman Harry Roque reminded the public that swimming is still prohibited in areas under MECQ.

“We understand that the weather is hot and many are excited to take a bath and to swim but it should not be a reason to disregard guidelines,” Roque said.

“I repeat, gatherings are prohibited. That’s what happened to India. Let us not allow this to happen to our beloved country,” the Palace spokesman said.

“Under MECQ, tourism and gatherings are prohibited. The imposition of sanctions is in the hands of the local government. But our message to the people is this: We have seen the gatherings in India... Look at what happened to India. It’s a disaster. We hope we will avoid the disaster that happened in India,” he added.

Caloocan Mayor Oscar Malapitan agreed with DOH’s recommendation and said they are now tracing the whereabouts of resort visitors. The resort had 300 guests at that time based on its logbook, he told CNN Philippines.

The city government has secured the resort’s guest book for contact tracing purposes. Caloocan residents found to have been among the visitors of the resort would be made to undergo swab testing. Some of the resort visitors were from Valenzuela and Bulacan, Malapitan said.

“They should quarantine for at least 10 days. City hall will call them one by one,” he added.

License revoked

He stressed that the city government will revoke the business license of the resort and sue its management for violating Republic Act 11332 or the “Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.”

“We will no longer allow them to operate even if we shift to general community quarantine,” Malapitan said in Filipino.

Sought for comment on the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)’s warning that local chief executives may be criminally charged for dereliction of duty for allowing mass gatherings, Malapitan said the city government responded immediately to close the resort.

Barangay 171 chairman Romy Rivera, however, will be investigated for allowing the resort to operate despite the strict quarantine restrictions, Malapitan added.

Rivera could not be reached for comment, but he earlier told ABS-CBN he did not know the place had opened.

DILG chief Eduardo Año said Rivera was arrested and brought to the Caloocan City police station. “Contact tracing and testing are also being conducted to address any possible transmission of the COVID-19,” Año told reporters.

“This will serve as a reminder and warning to all LGUs in line with DILG Memo Circular 2021-050 regarding the directives on the roles of mayors in the implementation of minimum public health standards especially on the prohibition against public or mass gathering,” he added.

City hall learned of the mass gathering at the resort after photos and videos of the place taken by The STAR photographer Boy Santos went viral on social media.

Meanwhile, two men were arrested for beating up News5 cameraman Arnel Libusada while he was video recording scenes at the resort Sunday afternoon.

Dennis and Daniel Cawigan would be charged with serious physical injury for beating up the cameraman, according to Caloocan police chief Col. Samuel Mina.

Resort goers caught leaving the place without face masks were also given ordinance violation tickets, Mina added.

“The PNP will definitely file charges against the owner (of the resort) and we are also studying the possibility of filing charges against the barangay chairman in the area for violation of Article 208 (or the provision on the negligence of a public officer in the Revised Penal Code),” PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said at a press conference.

Eleazar said the PNP would give the owner and barangay chairman the opportunity to explain why the resort was able to operate and accept hundreds of guests.

“The point is this should serve as a lesson and a warning to all others, not just the establishment owners and management but including barangay chairmen,” he said, adding that they would also file charges against the patrons “if the evidence warrants it.” – Neil Jayson Servallos, Alexis Romero

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