‘Poblacion girl,’ guard indicted for breaking quarantine
Prosecutors indicted “Poblacion girl,” Gwyneth Anne Chua, who notoriously broke the mandatory quarantine and infected a number of individuals with COVID-19 after partying in Makati City in December.
In a statement on Thursday, the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office in a resolution dated April 29 said it found probable cause to charge Chua with violation of Republic Act No. 11332, or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act, for defying the directives of authorities on mandatory quarantine.
Berjaya Makati Hotel security guard Esteban Gatbonton was also charged for his part in the escape. Should they be convicted, they shall face penalties of a fine ranging from P20,000 to P50,000, and/or imprisonment of one month to six months.
Charges against other Berjaya hotel employees named in the complaint—Gladiolyn Biala, Salvador Sabayo, Tito Arboleda and Hannah Araneta—were dropped for lack of probable cause, citing the evidence “failed to show that they knowingly allowed Chua to leave the hotel premises.”
The complaint against Chua’s parents, Allan and Gemma, as well as her boyfriend Rico Atienza, was also dismissed due to insufficient evidence to establish that they had violated provisions of RA 11332.
On Jan. 4, the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group filed the criminal complaint against Chua for skipping the mandated five-day quarantine period for travelers returning to the country, being a superspreader event and infecting locals.
Chua, a returning Filipino from the United States, arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 on Dec. 22, checked in at Berjaya at 11:23 p.m. but was fetched by her father a few minutes later.
She was seen at a restaurant and a restobar in Barangay Poblacion on Dec. 23 before she returned to the hotel on Dec. 25, accompanied by her mother.
She took a swab test on Dec. 26, and was informed the next day that she tested positive for COVID-19.
The Department of Health reported that at least 11 of Chua’s contacts later tested positive of COVID-19. The Department of Tourism suspended the operation of Berjaya for two months and fined the hotel P13,200 for the quarantine breach. —DEXTER CABALZA
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