Caloocan resort owners charged

Marc Jayson Cayabyab, Romina Cabrera - The Philippine Star
Caloocan resort owners charged
People are seen swimming in a pool at Gubat Sa Ciudad Resort in Caloocan City on May 9, 2021 despite the implementation of MECQ in the NCR+ bubble.
The STAR / Boy Santos, file

MANILA, Philippines — Charges have been filed against the owners of a resort in Caloocan City that was shut down for operating amid the modified enhanced community quarantine or MECQ, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said yesterday.

DILG spokesman and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said charges for violation of Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act and City Ordinance 0863 (physical distancing) were filed against Gubat sa Cuidad president Rodolfo de Guzman, general manager Aleli de Guzman and eight other staff of the resort before the Caloocan prosecutor’s office.

City health officer Evelyn Cuevas and Business Permits and Licensing Office (BPLO) head Emmanuel Vergara said the resort management violated the guidelines imposed by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) when it opened to guests amid the MECQ.

“The acts of the respondents have caused serious harm and damage not only to the community and to the city but also to the concerted effort of government to stamp out the COVID-19 pandemic,” the complaint read.

The complaint spelled the resort’s name as “Gubat sa Siudad” based on the company’s general information sheet filed before the Securities and Exchange Commission.

According to city hall, Aleli met with BPLO employees during the inspection on May 9 and admitted that the resort opened to a limited number of guests.

But photos and videos taken by The STAR photographer Boy Santos showed hundreds of people, including children, frolicking in the pool despite quarantine restrictions.

Included in the complaint are screenshots of social media posts of the resort guests.

108 of 496 guests traced

Malaya said only 108 people out of the 496 resort guests have been traced so far.

Of the number, 24 have undergone antigen swab tests for COVID-19 infection while 64 will undergo testing today. No one has tested positive for the virus as of yesterday.

“I must admit, it’s really difficult to conduct contact tracing because of the negligence of the resort management. In fact, hindi kumpleto ang mga impormasyon na nakalagay sa logbook o mga guest stubs,” Malaya said.

He said the resort’s management not only defied COVID-19 protocols but also failed to require all the guests to fill out contact tracing forms.

Of the 496 stubs obtained by contact tracers containing the personal information of resort goers, only 232 contained cell phone numbers.

The remaining guest stubs did not indicate cell phone numbers, according to the report. Several stubs also did not contain full addresses and names, leaving hundreds of resort guests still unaccounted for in the contact tracing effort to contain a possible spread of the virus.

Those who were contacted were told to isolate for two weeks.

The contact tracers called the numbers at least 10 times and left voice mail messages, but to no avail, according to city hall.

“Callers were unable to reach the remaining 72 people who either left their phone unattended, blocked the caller or had incorrect numbers,” the report read.

Malaya said of the resort’s guests, 180 were from Caloocan, 26 from Quezon City, 11 from Bulacan, seven from Valenzuela, five from Manila and three from Malabon.

The operations of leisure businesses such as resorts remain prohibited in areas under MECQ.

The DILG appealed to the resort goers to contact the authorities, especially if they manifest symptoms of COVID-19.

Malaya said they would not impose sanctions on those who will come forward.

“Gusto lang namin ma-contact trace kayo at ma-test ‘yung may mga sintomas. ‘Yun lamang po naman ang gusto natin mangyari,” he said.

Mayor Oscar Malapitan has revoked the resort’s business permit, vowing that it would never be allowed to operate in Caloocan.

Barangay 171 chairman Romeo Rivera is facing an administrative complaint before the city council for neglecting his duties when the resort was allowed to open.

The commander of the police sub-station who has jurisdiction over Gubat sa Ciudad resort was also relieved from his post.


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