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MANILA, Philippines – Berjaya Makati Hotel questioned the Makati City government’s move to close down its operations on Thursday, January 6, pointing out that it can still appeal the suspension of its accreditation with the Department of Tourism (DOT).
Berjaya asserted that the city government’s move has no legal basis and would be disadvantageous for the country amid spiking COVID-19 cases.
“For one, the DOT order is not yet final as the hotel will appeal it within the 15-day period it is given. Meanwhile, the suspension is not in effect. Secondly, there is no law that penalizes a hotel for not reporting a guest who jumps quarantine. There is nothing in RA (Republic Act) 13322 that is applicable to the hotel,” Berjaya said in a statement.
Berjaya also claimed it was not given due process by the Makati City government before the closure order was enforced.
“On the operations level, if we close down the hotel immediately, where do we send our present quarantine guests?” asked the hotel.
Berjaya said it currently has 18 guests who tested positive for COVID-19 and have yet to be pulled out by the Bureau of Quarantine, while 80 are in the middle of their quarantine.
“We also have around 20 quarantine guests per week coming in and have paid in advance. The inconvenience to the public is incalculable, unnecessary, and preventable,” Berjaya said.
“To close down a quarantine hotel for no legal reason is to close down a hospital just when it is helping to win the war. There is no benefit to be gained by such regulatory posturing when national interest and public health are on the line,” the hotel added.
Aside from suspending Berjaya’s accreditation, the DOT had also revoked its permit as a multiple-use hotel and imposed a fine “equivalent to twice the rack rate of its most expensive room.”
The penalties stemmed from a quarantine breach involving Gwyneth Chua, a Filipino traveler who returned from the United States.
Chua skipped quarantine at Berjaya and partied in Poblacion, Makati City. She later tested positive for COVID-19 and so did several of her companions.
The DOT said Berjaya’s CCTV footage showed Chua leaving the hotel on December 22, just 15 minutes after she checked in supposedly for five-day quarantine until December 27.
“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 said. – Rappler.com