DOT looking for other hotels for displaced Berjaya guests

Berjaya Makati

THE DEPARTMENT of Tourism (DOT) is finding alternative accommodations for Berjaya Makati Hotel’s incoming guests after Makati City Hall ordered the establishment’s closure.

DOT-National Capital Region Officer-in-Charge Sharlene Batin told the BusinessMirror, “For those incoming [guests], they [Berjaya] are asked not to accommodate anymore, so DOT is looking for other hotels for those with confirmed bookings, and Berjaya is facilitating the refund as well.”

She added, “For the remaining guests, we are consulting with the BoQ (Bureau of Quarantine) as to the process of transferring guests completing their quarantine requirement just to ensure they will not be at risk during facility transfers, and to ensure that such action will still be in accordance with BoQ protocols in handling quarantined guests.”

As per the closure order signed by City Administrator Claro Certeza on January 5, 2021, addressed to Perdana Hotel Philippines Inc., operator of Berjaya Makati Hotel, the establishment was found violating the Safety and Health Protocols and Section 4A.10 of the Revised Makati Revenue Code City Ordinance No. 2004-A-025. This effectively “revoked/canceled” the mayor’s permit or business license of the establishment.

Berjaya Makati said the closure was “without legal basis” as it is based on the DOT’s suspension order, which is “not yet final as the hotel will appeal it within the 15-day period it is given.” (See related story, “Makati shuts down hotel in quarantine breach case” on page A3).

The closure order arose after DOT found one of its guests, Gwyneth Ann Chua, skipping quarantine after arriving from the US, then going to a bar in Poblacion, Makati the next evening, thus earning her the monicker “Poblacion Girl.” (See, “Anyone can sue ‘Poblacion Girl’— DOJ chief,” in the BusinessMirror, December 31, 2021.)

Batin said the hotel had been earlier informed by the Makati City Hall of the closure order. “Makati City through its BPLO [Business Processing and Licensing Office] of the scheduled closure today [Thursday] to provide them the opportunity to inform the guests to make the necessary arrangements,” referring to their transfer to other quarantine hotels.

‘NBI didn’t tell us anything’

Meanwhile, the DOT was never informed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) that the latter was looking into reports of quarantine skippers as early as August 2021, and that hotels were not cooperating with its probe.

A DOT source told the BusinessMirror, “No [we were not told about it]. And if they [NBI] knew about it, why didn’t they file cases? They should have also informed us.”

Asked why NBI didn’t file cases versus persons and hotels involved in violations of mandatory quarantine procedures, Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said in Filipino, “They will do it, together with their current investigation,” referring to the more recent cases reported by the DOT.

In a report aired by TV Patrol on Wednesday evening, the NBI said it had monitored alleged violations of mandatory quarantine procedures of a celebrity, foreign travelers, and balikbayans (homecoming Filipinos). The report added, a five-star hotel in Makati allowed the celebrity to skip quarantine, and that a diagnostic laboratory told the NBI of incidents when swabbed guests were not at their hotels to receive their swab results.

When NBI asked three hotels about these separate incidents, however, they supposedly refused to give a headcount of their quarantined guests. In a news statement on Thursday,  the DOT said it “has coordinated with the NBI for the list of quarantine hotels that have allegedly refused to cooperate in [the latter’s] investigation on a number of their guests who have reportedly breached quarantine protocols.”

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