Duterte says hotels not responsible for quarantine breaches, sends cops

Jonathan de Santos - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 12:21 p.m.) — The government cannot fault quarantine hotels for people slipping out of their premises since only the state can enforce quarantine rules, President Rodrigo Duterte said Tuesday night as he suggested deploying police officers to do that.

The president made the remarks at the top of his weekly pre-recorded televised briefings after the case of a Filipina traveler who skipped quarantine to party hit the news. The party-goer — and another traveler who skipped quarantine to get a massage — has been caught and will be held accountable, authorities have said.

RELATED: CIDG to file raps vs 'Poblacion Girl', parents for quarantine breach

"They cannot be doing the police work for the government," Duterte said, adding government can designate hotels as quarantine facilities but enforcement of the quarantine should be done by government personnel.

"It would not be legally correct to go after the hotel owners or the managers there or whoever is attending to the needs of the people that are inside the hotel because of quarantine reasons," he said.

Duterte, a lawyer, said hotels and facilities do not have the authority to keep people from leaving quarantine and having them do that "would be a messy thing to do." 

RELATED: Makati hotel sorry over quarantine breach

He said the Philippine National Police can send police officers to guard the hotels and monitor compliance with quarantine protocols. In a statement Wednesday, the PNP said it will do that and "intensify" its inspections of quarantine facilities.

"Let this be a warning that there is no room for complacency especially [in handling] guests," the PNP said, adding that police presence will be effective "in tracking modus (schemes) such as the absentee quarantine." 

NBI probes quarantine 'rackets'

The National Bureau of Investigation has already been tasked with looking into whether there are schemes that allow people on quarantine to skip isolation for pay.

The tourism department has also been looking into alleged "absentee quarantine" packages available at some hotels, according to a Dec. 30, 2021 BusinessMirror report.

In a statement on Wednesday, Sen. Panfilo Lacson stressed that government should also hold the "connections" of Gwyneth Chua — the young woman who partied while supposedly in quarantine — accountable for the breach.

"Nagpabaya o nagpabayad (Whether it was negligence or bribery) does not make much difference," the former national police chief said. He said the "palakasan" or patronage system in the Philippines has to end.

Although implementation of quarantine protocols has been vigorously enforced against ordinary citizens, high-profile violators of guidelines on essential travel and holding large gatherings have regularly been let off the hook.




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