Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri filed Tuesday Senate Bill No. 2470, amending Republic Act 11332, or the Law on Reporting of Communicable Diseases, to identify quarantine violations under its prohibited acts, and set commensurate penalties for said violations.
This comes after Zubiri released a statement in late December, calling for the Departments of Health, Tourism, and Interior and Local Government to investigate reports of a Makati City hotel allowing for a breach of quarantine protocols set for individuals returning from abroad.
The alleged quarantine violator, dubbed “Poblacion Girl” on social media, was said to have dined and partied with friends, despite having tested positive for COVID-19. At least 15 individuals are reported to have contracted the virus from those gatherings.
“As we feared, tumaas na nga nang tumaas ulit ang mga kaso natin ng COVID over the past week. But this is not just from the Christmas rush. For all we know marami pang ibang mga quarantine facilities at individuals ang hindi sumusunod sa ating health and quarantine protocols at nagkakalat ng COVID galing sa ibang bansa,” Zubiri said.
“We’re filing this bill so we can take these irresponsible individuals and entities to task in the future.”
The bill amends Section 9 or the Prohibited Acts of RA 11332 to include persons engaging in “non-compliance, evasion, or skipping off on mandatory quarantine or isolation” as well individuals or entities who aid said persons, “such as owners, officials, or employees of quarantine and isolation facilities, government officials and employees, or acted as an accomplice in non-compliance.”
The bill also sets a fine for violators: not less than P500,000 but not more than P1 million, or imprisonment of one to six years.
Further, if another person contracts the communicable disease from the quarantine violator, and it leads to the person’s permanent incapacity or death, the bill sets a penalty of P1 million along with payment of civil damages or imprisonment of 6 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.