COVID-19

Nearly 600 cops to be assigned to Metro Manila quarantine hotels

Pia Ranada
Nearly 600 cops to be assigned to Metro Manila quarantine hotels

NEW ASSIGNMENT. Police personnel deployed to checkpoints have been tapped to man quarantine hotels in Metro Manila.

Dennis Abrina/Rappler

President Duterte's spokesman clarifies the Chief Executive's remarks, saying they don't absolve hotels of legal liability over negligence leading to quarantine breaches

MANILA, Philippines – The national government will assign 594 police personnel to man quarantine facilities in Metro Manila as a way to implement President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to boost enforcement against persons breaching their mandatory quarantine.

Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya gave this figure on Wednesday, January 5, a day after Duterte issued his directive.

“It won’t be hard for the Philippine National Police to deploy 594 officers to quarantine facilities,” he said.

With this number of personnel, two cops each will be assigned to the 297 quarantine facilities in Metro Manila, where the country’s major airports are located and where the biggest spike in COVID-19 transmissions have been detected.

These facilities are a mix of “mandatory” quarantine facilities, “stringent” quarantine facilities, and those reserved for returning seafarers, said Malaya.

More will have to be deployed to quarantine facilities across the country, the number of which Malaya was unable to give during the press briefing.

But he gave assurances the PNP has enough manpower for nationwide deployment.

The nearly 600 police personnel to be assigned within Metro Manila facilities would come from mobile force battalions of local police stations and the cops previously manning checkpoints.

“I expect that by tomorrow, there will already be cops assigned,” said Malaya.

In the meantime, the PNP’s health service and Metro Manila cops have been conducting random inspections of quarantine facilities from December 31 to January 5.

Nograles clarifies Duterte remarks: Hotels still legally liable

In the same press briefing, Acting Presidential Spokesman and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles sought to put “into context” Duterte’s remarks on Tuesday that quarantine hotels can’t be held legally liable for quarantine breaches.

“The officials of the hotel or quarantine facility are still duty-bound to, at the very least, report any violations of those [who] are under quarantine, and if there is negligence on the part or they failed to do something, the omission of the hotel employees or its officers in not reporting,” he said.

Duterte had said on Tuesday that it is “not legally correct to go after the hotel owners or the managers” if their guests break quarantine.

But Nograles clarified that the President’s statement “does not remove them or absolve them (hotel owners, managers, employees) of their negligence, the omissions of their acts, the non-reporting.”

“The cases will be filed, the cases will be prosecuted, and it will be up to the judge to decide,” he added.

Quarantine hotels have been put under the spotlight after public outrage at news that a woman, who turned out to be positive for COVID-19, was able to skip quarantine and attend a party in Makati. The tourism department has suspended the accreditation of the woman’s hotel, Berjaya Makati Hotel.

Government officials say some hotels are involved in an “absentee quarantine” modus where they accept payment from a guest in exchange for allowing that guest to skip quarantine. – Rappler.com