DOT suspends accreditation, fines hotel in ‘Poblacion girl’ quarantine breach

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
DOT suspends accreditation, fines hotel in âPoblacion girlâ quarantine breach
Released photo shows the Berjaya Makati Hotel.
Berjaya Makati Hotel / Released

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 12:04 p.m.)— The Department of Tourism on Wednesday said it has suspended the accreditation of a hotel in Makati City that failed to stop its guest, a traveler from the United States who later tested positive for COVID-19, from breaking the quarantine rules and leaving the premises to attend a party.

The DOT said it also revoked Berjaya Hotel Makati’s permit as a multiple-use hotel. Multiple-use hotels are "accommodation establishments that have been inspected by a team composed of personnel from DOT and Bureau of Quarantine and determined to be suitable for the accommodation of both quarantine and non-quarantine guests by reason of compliance with standards of physical separation of guests."

Moreover, the Makati hotel was also "fined equivalent to twice the rack rate of its most expensive room" or equivalent to a fine of P13,200.  

The tourism department added that the penalties approved by its Regulation, Coordination and Resource Generation unit were recommended by the DOT-NCR.

Berjaya was penalized after returning Filipino Gwyneth Anne Chua, dubbed “Poblacion girl” on social media, was spotted partying in Poblacion, Makati City when she was supposed to be in mandatory quarantine at the hotel.

The DOT earlier asked the Makati hotel to submit its response to the “quarantine-skipping incident” allegations within three days through the Notice to Explain.

In its reply dated January 1, Berjaya admitted that Chua left the hotel after checking in on her arrival date December 22.

The CCTV footage showed that she left the premises at 11:45 p.m., just 15 minutes after checking in.  

“Neither did the hotel security personnel nor the front lobby call her attention, and neither was there any effort to report the incident to the Bureau of Quarantine:, even after her return three days later. She was later seen in social media posts at a bar in Poblacion,” the DOT’s statement read.

“Chua, who was booked for a mandatory five-day quarantine at the hotel until December 27, later returned on the night of December 25. She underwent RT-PCR test on December 26. Her result came out positive the next day,” it added.

In a letter dated Dec. 29, 2021, Berjaya assured the agency that its quarantined guests “follow strict protocols.” However, it later apologized in a press release and in social media for failing to stop Chua from breaking the quarantine rules and for failing to report the quarantine breach.

The DOT’s decision said the statements by the hotel management and its public apology were "an admission of not just the facts of the incident but as well as their lapses in their responsibility as an accredited establishment of the Department of Tourism."

The tourism agency said it already served the copy of the decision to Berjaya. It has 15 working days to appeal the ruling.

The decision has also been forwarded to other concerned agencies such as the Department of Health, BOQ, One-Stop-Shop-Management of Returning Overseas Filipino of the Department of Transportation -Office of Transportation Security, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Labor and Employment, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Department of Trade and Industry, and Makati local government unit. 

The DOT earlier said accommodation establishments that would fail to comply with the DOT and DOH or the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ health and safety protocols may face “criminal penalties of fines and/or imprisonment, and administrative penalties such as suspension or revocation of accreditation depending on the gravity of the offense.”



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