MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP CIDG) will also file cases of quarantine breach against the parents of Gwyneth Chua, the woman who skipped mandatory quarantine after a US trip and later tested positive for COVID-19.
“CIDG will be filing cases against nine persons, including Ms. Chua, her father and mother, and several personnel of the hotel (quarantine facility),” CIDG spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Mon Sawan said in a statement on Monday, January 3.
Based on CIDG’s investigation, Chua’s father fetched Gwyneth from the Berjaya Makati Hotel shortly after checking in close to midnight on December 22. Under government rules, inbound passengers should undergo mandatory quarantine in government-designated facilities, and are allowed to check out only after a negative RT-PCR test but will complete the 14-day quarantine period at home.
Chua, however, partied in two restaurants in Poblacion district in Makati on December 23. It was her mother who dropped off Chua at the Berjaya hotel on Christmas day, December 25. Chua’s RT-PCR test came back positive on December 26. Tourism Secretary Bernadette Puyat earlier said some of Chua’s companions in Poblacion also tested positive.
The CIDG will be filing cases of violation of Republic Act No. 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act, which mandates the cooperation of everybody in a public health crisis.
This law did not always work – human rights lawyers have criticized the law as too broad, especially when used to prosecute and arrest without warrant petty offenders like those who were caught not wearing or improperly wearing their masks. It had also clogged prosecutorial and court dockets, leading to prolonged jailtime in crowded prisons.
For Chua’s case, the CIDG will be testing a different provision. Instead of Section 9 of RA 11332 which contains generic terms of cooperation, CIDG said they would sue for violation of Section 1 (g) (iii) and (iv) of the law’s Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), which was revised in pandemic year 2020.
The provisions prohibit:
- (iii) Failure to comply with a quarantine/ isolation order or directive duly issued by a public health authority
- (iv) Violation of any terms or conditions of the quarantine or isolation order or directive issued by a public health authority
“As for the individuals who were in the company of Gwyneth Anne Chua on the night of December 23, 2021 and were allegedly infected by the virus, CIDG did not find sufficient evidence to charge them with any offense in relation to the vioaltions committed by Ms. Chua,” said the CIDG.
The known case of RA 11332 which progressed into a trial is the case of the urban poor residents of San Roque in Quezon City, whose demand for food aid in the early days of the pandemic resulted in a police dispersal. (READ: In PH pandemic: Due process for allies, warrantless arrests for the rest)
Other high-profile cases of quarantine breaches, including that of Senator Koko Pimentel, have been dismissed. There is no known update to the case against former police chief Debold Sinas who, when he was Metro Manila police chief, held a birthday party in the police headquarters, Camp Crame, when the capital region was on lockdown and mass gatherings were prohibited.