President Rodrigo Roa Duterte wants the police to oversee hotels being used as quarantine facilities to prevent individuals undergoing quarantine from skirting government-mandated quarantine guidelines.
During his weekly Talk to the People on Tuesday, President Duterte said he believes hotel owners and personnel have no authority or power to physically stop individuals from leaving the facility if they want to.
“Ang makapahinto lang sa kanila ‘yung government personnel placed or put there in the hotel to work in the matter of placing people under quarantine. It has to be a government personnel or employee,” he said.
He made a proposal for the police to man hotels serving as quarantine facilities.
“Si Secretary Año: Sir, kaya mong maglagay ng pulis sa mga hotels na ginagamit ng quarantine ng gobyerno? Dalawang pulis in two shifts para diyan lang,” the President said.
Año, who was also present during the meeting, said he has already discussed the matter with Philippine National Police chief General Dionardo Carlos and the PNP is doing the preparations to guard the hotels.
In his legal opinion, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the government could use the implementing rules and regulations of the Republic Act No. 11332, or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act to enforce quarantine guidelines at designated facilities.
According to Guevarra, there is a provision in the law on non-cooperation as part of prohibited acts, and certain entities charged with a duty to respond to the pandemic may be held accountable if they failed to cooperate with the government.
“So these entities, Mr. President, may include establishments, which are charged with a duty, for example, as a quarantine hotel, to ensure that people who are quarantined within the establishment should not be able to jump the quarantine regulations,” he said.
While it is not possible for hotel personnel to physically stop people from leaving the premises, the Justice chief said the hotel management can devise ways to restrict them by demanding certain proof on the need to go out like medical emergency or other viable reason.
If persons undergoing quarantine insist on leaving the hotel without any justifiable reason, they should not be allowed to exit the facility, he argued.
Authorities have focused their attention on “quarantine jumpers” after an overseas Filipino, who was supposed to be under quarantine, left her Makati hotel, had a dinner, and mingled with other people.
She turned up to be positive to COVID-19 a few days later, and has spread the coronavirus to others.
As of January 4, the country recorded 5,434 new COVID-19 cases, with the National Capital Region (NCR) recording 3,849 cases; Calabarzon, 868; Central Luzon, 339; and other regions, 378.
The Philippines has 29,809 total active cases, 2.7 million total recoveries, with 51,604 deaths, the Department of Health (DOH) reported.
The country’s positivity rate shot up to 14.1 percent from less than five percent weeks earlier, showing a significant jump in infection rate. PND