Fontana denies involvement in illegal COVID-19 clinic, defends villa owner

JC Gotinga

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Fontana denies involvement in illegal COVID-19 clinic, defends villa owner
The resort operator says the Chinese suspects who allegedly ran the illegal COVID-19 clinic were released without any charges

MANILA, Philippines – The operator of Fontana Leisure Park at the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga denied involvement in the alleged illegal coronavirus clinic raided by police earlier this week, and defended the facility’s owner against the allegations.

On Saturday, May 23, the Fontana Development Corporation released a media statement saying it “does not in any way condone any illegal activity within their leased property.”

In the same statement, Fontana assistant general manager Simon Wu said ownership of the resort villa where the alleged illegal clinic was discovered “has long been transferred” to another company, Shidaikeji Technology Corporation.

“Fontana has no control over the property or the operations therein. In fact, Fontana casino, junket, and hotel operations have long been suspended. Fontana has zero operations at present,” Wu said in a letter to Noel Manankil, president of the government-owned Clark Development Corporation (CDC).

The sprawling resort and casino enclave ceased operations when the government declared placed Luzon in enhanced community quarantine in mid-March, Wu added. Pampanga is currently under the slightly eased modified enhanced community quarantine.

Suspects released

Wu then quoted Shidaikeji, denying it operated a COVID-19 clinic inside the resort complex. Shidaikeji was only using the villa “to attend to their own employee’s needs,” he told Manankil in the letter, a copy of which was sent by Fontana to media along with Wu’s statement.

The two Chinese arrested on Tuesday for allegedly running the underground clinic were released on the same day without any charges filed against them, Wu said.

On Tuesday, police arrested Hu Ling, 45, allegedly the owner of the illegal clinic; and Lee Seung-Hyun, 38, said to be the facility’s pharmacist. Authorities said both suspects are Chinese.

At the time, the CDC said both suspects would face charges for violation of Republic Act (RA) 9711 or the Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009, and violation of RA 2382 or the Medical Act of 1959.

The arrests followed a raid by police and officers from the Food and Drug Administration acting on an informant’s tip that a COVID-19 patient was getting treatment at Villa 628 on Florida Street inside Fontana Leisure Park.

On Wednesday, May 20, the CDC put the resort complex on lockdown and said the “makeshift medical facility for Chinese patients” violated the law, and will “never be tolerated” inside Clark Freeport. 

490 Chinese workers swab-tested

On Thursday, May 21, some 490 Chinese citizens working and residing in the Fontana resort were swab-tested for COVID-19 – but not the roughly 70 Filipino employees of the same establishments.

In the Fontana statement, Wu said the 490 people tested on Thursday were all employees of Shidaikeji.

Wu reminded the public that the company has lent its billion-peso Fontana Convention Center to the government for free, for use as a quarantine facility for suspected coronavirus patients.

He also pointed out that it has let the government’s Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) use the same convention center for free “for a very long time.”

“Despite the BCDA’s free use of the property, we have still paid the government continuous lease payments on the land, and have never defaulted on any rental payment or tax payment therefor,” Wu said.

The BCDA is led by Vince Dizon, who is currently the country’s coronavirus testing czar, and the deputy chief implementer of government policies on COVID-19. –

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JC Gotinga

JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.