‘Poblacion Girl’ fined for skipping quarantine

September 5, 2022 Alfred P. Dalizon 391 views

A MAKATI City court has ordered ‘Poblacion Girl’ Gwyneth Anne Chua to pay a P20,000 fine after she pleaded guilty for skipping quarantine protocols during the holiday season last year, the Journal Group learned on Monday.

Judge Maureen Rubio-Marquez issued the ruling after Chua, a Returning Overseas Filipino pleaded guilty for violating Republic Act 11332, particularly Section 9, which is ‘non-cooperation of persons and entities that should report and/or respond to notifiable diseases or health events of public concern.’

The case against the accused was filed by the National Capital Region Field Unit of the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) then headed by Colonel Randy Glenn G. Silvio last January.

PNP-CIDG director, Brigadier General Ronald O. Lee lauded the Makati judge’s decision and the work played by his men in investigating the controversy.

“This is proof that nobody is above the law. The public must also understand that they cannot easily skirt even our quarantine rules without being made answerable to it by the court. This actually should serve as a lesson to all,” said the official.

Makati City Prosecutor Rafael Esguerra said that Chua entered her guilty plea and apologized for her actions which became a national issue early this year.

The PNP-CIDG investigation showed that Chua returned to Manila on December 22 last year from a Los Angeles, California trip.

Hours after arriving in the country, she attended a party held in Barangay Poblacion in Makati City, totally skirting requirements for her to undergo isolation at a designated hotel until she has completed her period of quarantine.

Chua tested positive for COVID-19 and was taken to a Bureau of Quarantine facility two days later.

Officials said that Chua’s case should serve as an example that Philippine quarantine protocols should not be violated because doing so has a huge effect on the community

Non-adherence to COVID-19 guidelines and policies constitute a violation of RA 113332 and violators shall be penalized with a fine between P20,000 and P50,000 or imprisonment of not less than one month but not more than six months, or both at the discretion of the proper court.

The government also ordered the investigation of the Berjaya Makati Hotel where the woman was supposed to be quarantined.

Chua’s case attracted national attention after she reportedly bragged of having high connections in the government. A team of investigators from the CIDG-NCRFU led by Lieutenant Col. Leo Bautista gathered all the pieces of evidence including CCTV footages, photographs and other proof and witnesses which said that indeed, Chua broke quarantine.

Chua was charged with violation of Section 9 of Republic Act No. 11332 (The Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health of Public Health Concern Act) by the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office.

This was after probable cause was established against her during preliminary investigation by city prosecutors.

Also recommended for indictment was Esteban Gatbonton, a security guard of Berjaya Makati Hotel, for allegedly assisting Chua in leaving the quarantine facility.

However, the prosecutor’s office found insufficient of evidence to charge Chua’s parents (Allan Chua and Gemma Leonardo-Chua) and her boyfriend (Rico Atienza) before the regular courts.

Investigation showed that Chua’s father fetched Gwyneth from the Berjaya Makati Hotel – where she was supposed to undergo mandatory quarantine – shortly after checking in on December 22, 2021.

Chua attended parties in two restaurants in Poblacion, Makati on December 23, and returned to Berjaya Hotel on December 25 accompanied by her mother.

When her RT-PCR test came back on December 26, Chua tested positive for COVID-19.