MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he wanted at least two police officers deployed in hotels used as Covid-19 quarantine facilities to prevent incidents of persons skipping their mandatory quarantine.
Duterte said since hotel owners do not have the authority or power to stop people under quarantine from breaching protocols, it only makes sense to assign the task to government personnel, specifically police officers.
“The hotel owners or whoever is working there cannot be tasked of or placing the burden of enforcing the rules of quarantine because only government can enforce it…Ang makapahinto sa kanila yung (The only ones who can stop them are) government personnel put in the hotel to work in the matter of placing people under quarantine,” he said in a prerecorded Talk to the People.
He then asked Interior Secretary Eduardo Año if it is possible to deploy at least two police officers in hotel quarantine facilities in two shifts.
“What I propose for government to do is…Secretary Año, sir kaya mong maglagay ng pulis sa mga hotels na ginagamit na quarantine ng gobyerno? Dalawang pulis in two shifts para diyan lang (Can you deploy two police officers in hotels used as quarantine facilities of government? Two police officers in two shifts)?” he asked.
Año, in response, said he has already discussed the plan with Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief, Gen. Dionardo Carlos.
Duterte, meanwhile, asked Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra if hotel owners can be held liable for allowing persons to skip mandatory quarantines.
Guevarra said persons or entities who violate Republic Act (RA) No. 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Concern Act, may be penalized with a fine, imprisonment, or both.
“There is a provision there on non-cooperation as part of prohibited acts and it seems to be that non-cooperation on the part of certain entities which are charged with a duty to respond to the pandemic may also be punishable. So these entities, Mr. President, may include establishments which are charged with the duty, for example, as a quarantine hotel to ensure that people that are quarantined within the establishment should not be able to jump the quarantine regulations,” Guevarra said.
He, however, said hotel management is only limited to devising ways of preventing people from breaching quarantine protocols.
“Wala silang (They do not have) coercive power to stop but they can only report kung mayroon violation yung occupant (if an occupant has made a violation),” he added.
Duterte said because the delegated power of hotel owners is “lacking”, police officers should take over the task of making sure people finish their mandatory quarantine period.
“Yung (The) delegated power is not really very clear that they can stop or bar or prohibit. Medyo kulang ang batas. ’Yan yung problema. That’s why yung pulis nalang (The law is lacking. That’s the problem. That’s why let’s give it to the cops),” he said.
On Monday, the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) filed before the Makati City prosecutor’s office the case of violating RA 11332 against a returning Filipina who breached quarantine protocols after arriving from the United States (US), her parents, her boyfriend and five other persons.
The CIDG said its investigation found that Gwyneth Anne Chua checked in at the Berjaya Hotel Makati on Dec. 22 at 11:23 p.m. but was later seen in a bar and restaurant on Dec. 23 and on Dec. 25 and later returned to the hotel.
On Dec. 26, Chua tested positive for Covid-19 and infected around 15 people she was with.
She is currently being isolated in one of the isolation facilities in Metro Manila.
The Berjaya Hotel Makati later apologized for “failing to stop” the woman from leaving before the end of her required quarantine period. (PNA)