The National Bureau of Investigation said it first came across reports of an absentee quarantine modus in August last year at the height of the Enhanced Community Quarantine in Metro Manila.
According to NBI Special Action Unit Executive Officer Kristine dela Cruz, it was a “palit ulo” or quarantine swap scheme where another person would check in at the accredited facility or hotel to undergo isolation and the returning passenger will just “appear” on the fifth day when he or she needs to be swabbed.
“Hotel managements have observed these breaches and reported these to us,” Dela Cruz said.
She said celebrities and foreign passengers were among those who breached quarantine protocols, but did not name them.
In a Palace briefing, DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said a total of 594 police officers would be deployed to 297 quarantine facilities in Metro Manila, as President Rodrigo Duterte ordered.
He said police personnel earlier deployed to checkpoints may also be assigned to man quarantine facilities accredited by the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Bureau of Quarantine.
“It is not difficult for the PNP to deploy these 594 police officers to quarantine facilities,” he said in Filipino.
He said the random inspection in quarantine hotels began on Dec. 21 and is ongoing. (See full story online at manilastandard.net)
The inspections, carried out at 50 facilities, were conducted by the PNP Health Service and the National Capital Region Police Office upon orders from Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, Malaya added.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Dionardo Carlos said police would be stationed at a common inter-agency help desk in each
quarantine hotel in coordination with the DOT, BOQ, Philippine Coast Guard, and the local government unit.
The new measures were imposed after Gwyneth Anne Chua, a returning Filipino traveler from the United States, skipped quarantine procedures at the Berjaya Hotel in Makati and attended a party a day after her arrival. She later tested positive for COVID-19, and infected several other partygoers.
Criminal charges were filed before the Makati City prosecutor’s office against Chua, her parents and six other people who were involved in the breach of quarantine protocols late last year.