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Zubiri Seeks Stiffer Penalties for Quarantine Violations After Poblacion Girl

Bill seeks amendments on Notifiable Diseases law.
by Erwin Colcol
Just now
Photo/s: Senate PRIB

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Tuesday filed a measure seeking stiffer penalties for quarantine violations after the case of a woman who broke quarantine to party in Makati's Poblacion district days before testing positive for COVID-19 went viral.

Zubiri filed Senate Bill 2470 after he called on government agencies to investigate reports of a Makati City hotel that supposedly allowed one of its guests to skip quarantine upon returning from abroad.

The Department of Tourism identified the woman as Gwyneth Chua as it asked Berjaya Hotel to explain the incident. Four of Chua's 15 close contacts have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Department of Health.

“We’re filing this bill so we can take these irresponsible individuals and entities to task in the future," Zubiri said.

Senate Bill 2470 seeks to amend the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act to include additional prohibited acts and impose higher penalties for violators.

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It proposes to include as a prohibited act under the law the "non-compliance, evasion, or skipping off on mandatory quarantine or isolation," which also covers individuals or entities who aid said persons.

It also sets a fine of P500,000 to P1 million, or imprisonment of one to six years for violators. Currently, the law only imposes a P20,000 to P50,000 fine or one to six month in prison for violations.

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If another person contracts the communicable disease from the quarantine violator, and it leads to the person's permanent incapacity or death, the penalty is increased to P1 million in fines along with payment of civil damages or imprisonment of six to 12 years.

“There’s no recovering from this pandemic if people—and quarantine facilities themselves—do not take our health protocols seriously. Knowingly posing a health risk to others is absolutely harmful behavior, and our laws need to reflect that," Zubiri said.

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The PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group said it would file complaints against Chua, her parents, and several employees of Berjaya Hotel over the quarantine breach. Chua currently is in an isolation facility within Metro Manila.


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