Hotel in ‘Poblacion Girl’ fiasco suspended, fined

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MANILA – The Department of Tourism (DOT) has suspended the accreditation of a Makati hotel and revoked its permit as a multiple-use hotel for its failure to stop a guest from breaking quarantine rules.  

Berjaya Makati Hotel was also fined equivalent to twice the rack rate of its most expensive room, the DOT said in a news release on Wednesday.

The DOT’s Tourism Regulation, Coordination and Resource Generation approved the penalties recommended by the DOT – National Capital Region.

The case stemmed from the actions of returning Filipino Gwyneth Chua, identified on social media as “Poblacion Girl” because she was seen in Poblacion, Makati City when she was supposed to be in the hotel undergoing quarantine.  

Berjaya, in their reply dated January 1, admitted that CCTV footage showed Chua leaving the hotel at 11:45 p.m., or 15 minutes after checking in upon her arrival on December 22. 

Neither the hotel security personnel nor the front lobby called her attention, and neither was there any effort to report the incident to the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), even after her return three days later.

She was later seen in social media posts at a bar in Poblacion.  

Chua, who was booked for a mandatory five-day quarantine at the hotel until December 27, later returned on the night of December 25. She underwent a swab test on December 26. Her result came out positive the next day.  

A copy of the decision was served to Berjaya Hotel, which has 15 working days to appeal it.

The department’s decision has been given to the Department of Health (DOH), BOQ, One-Stop Shop Management of Returning Overseas Filipinos of the Department of Transportation – Office of Transportation Security (DOTr- OTS), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and Makati local government unit (LGU).

In their letter dated December 28, Berjaya even gave the assurance that quarantined guests “follow strict protocols.”

However, Berjaya later apologized in news reports and social media for their failure to report the “quarantine skipping incident” to the BOQ.  The statements and public apology made by the hotel management were “an admission of not just the facts of the incident but as well as their lapses in their responsibility as an accredited establishment of the Department of Tourism,” the decision read. (PR)