‘Gawin kaya dito?’ Filipinos hopeful for stricter quarantine violation sanctions as Taiwan OFW gets penalized

December 10, 2020 - 2:12 PM
People wear protective masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while taking the train in Taichung, Taiwan, December 4, 2020. (Reuters/Ann Wang)

Filipinos expressed hopes that quarantine protocol violators in the country would be strictly apprehended following reports of a Taiwan-based Filipino worker being penalized for breaking his mandatory quarantine in seconds.

Taiwan’s state-run Central News Agency (CNA) reported on Monday that the migrant worker, who arrived in the self-ruled island last month, was supposed to be quarantined in his hotel room for 14 days. However, he decided to step out of the room on November 13.

The report said that the man left his hotel room for eight seconds “to leave something at the door of another room for a friend who was also in quarantine on the same floor.”

“The man’s actions were caught on surveillance camera, and hotel personnel reported the matter to the health authorities,” the report added, referencing Kaohsiung‘s Department of Health.

The Filipino was fined US $3,540 or around P170,000 for breaking the mandatory quarantine, which included not leaving his own room.

The strict monitoring of quarantined guests in hotels was a result of the recent surge in the number of imported coronavirus disease cases in Taiwan.

CNA reported that the city government’s data showed that between November 1 and December 5, “nine foreign migrant workers in Kaohsiung were found to have contravened quarantine rules.”

Fines for breaking the city’s quarantine rules range from P170,000 to P1.7 million.

Taiwan is among the territories in the world with the least number of COVID-19 cases or those with a less than a thousand count of total cases.

As of Thursday morning, the self-ruled island has a total of 720 cases, based on the John Hopkins University‘s Coronavirus Resource Center.

It has been commended for curbing the transmission of the virus without enforcing strict lockdowns or restrictions on economic activity, unlike its neighbors.

Last October, it was reported that Taiwan did not have any local transmission for 200 days.

How about in the home country? 

Meanwhile, as reports of the OFW breaking protocols surfaced online, some Filipinos hoped that the same degree of sanction would be applied in the Philippines as well in terms of such incidents.

A Facebook user claimed how she experienced an opposite scenario in the country.

“Habang sa Pinas nung naka-quarantine kami sa hotel, ‘yung ibang naka-quarantine, lumalabas sa kwarto nila at nagla-laptop sa hallway …” she wrote in response to the news reports.

“Gawin kaya ito sa Pinas, ‘The fine for breaking quarantine rules in Kaohsiung ranges from P170,000 to P1.7 million,'” another online user commented.

“Sana ma-implement din ‘yan dito sa Pinas, kaso nga lang (wala ang) pangit (ng) batas dito kasi kahit mga opisyal, sila mismo ang pangunahing dahilan at lumalabag dito! Party pa more, Senyas!” exclaimed another Facebook user, referencing the mañanita held in honor of Police Gen. Debold Sinas last May.

Others aired the similar sentiments.

“While in the Philippines, you’ll get promoted,” commented another Filipino. The comment has earned more than 180 likes and reactions on the social networking site.

“And in the Philippines… one gets promoted to Chief, and one still remains as (a) senator,” another online user commented.

Some high-profile individuals who were reported to have breached quarantine protocols are Sinas, who is now the chief of the Philippine National Police, and Sen. Koko Pimentel.

A mañanita or a birthday salubong was held for Sinas when the National Capital Region was in its strictest quarantine status in which mass gatherings are prohibited.

Physical distancing measures were similarly not observed by law enforcers as well, based on the pictures that were initially released by Sinas’ now-former office.

The incident gained global attention but it did not deter Sinas from being appointed as the head of the national police force.

Rep. Ruffy Biazon (Muntinlupa) previously said that he has worked with the police officer and added that he is a good worker.

“But with the mañanita issue, he would just have to show that he has learned a lesson from the lapse by giving an excellent performance as (chief, PNP),” the lawmaker said before.

Pimentel, meanwhile, was criticized for accompanying his then-pregnant wife to a hospital last March despite waiting for his swab test result which turned out to be positive.

Makati Medical Center Director Saturnino Javier had accused the senator of violating the mandatory “home quarantine protocol” and potentially putting healthcare workers and patients at risk.

Pimentel said that the complaint against him “is fatally defective” but added in another report that he will “just wait for the DOJ.”

As of September, the justice department said that it hoped to issue a ruling on the complaint filed against the senator by November.

The Department of Tourism likewise reported a number of quarantine breaches in the past months.

Some tourists and individuals were seen gathering without following the minimum health protocols such as observance of physical distancing, wearing of face masks and shields and crowd control in tourist destinations like Boracay and Batangas.

The tourism agency launched an investigation into these incidents and supported the closure of erring establishments involved.

The DOT also condemned tourists from Luzon who falsified their COVID-19 test results to be able to enter Boracay. These individuals have been arrested and were required to undergo a swab test and 14-day quarantine.