Reports of some 100 foreigners and overseas Filipinos were assigned to stay in a run-down hotel in Batangas for the required 14-day quarantine for travelers entering the country, surfaced recently.
Passengers complained that the accommodations, identified as Canyon Woods, had no running water, internet connection and working facilities. Others said that it smelled bad and had garbage at the entrance.
Catholic priest Fr. Alberto Lazerna in an interview said that he and his fellow passengers coming from the US and South Korea were frustrated, feeling that they were left in an “abandoned” facility.
“We are not quarantine, we are hostaged,” said the priest.
He added that after arriving at Ninoy Aquino International Airport at 10:30 p.m., they underwent swab tests and waited for several hours before leaving for the hotel at 4 a.m. They reached Canyon Woods at 10 a.m. and were given food packs of egg, hotdog and rice for breakfast. Lazerna said that they received no food rations after that.
Other passengers said that the hotel did not seem to expect them; no health or transportation department personnel were present; and that there was no more social distancing among them.
The National Task Force Covid19 denied this. Deputy implementer Vince Dizon said that although it is not a five-star hotel, it was still decent lodging that has been in use for some time as a quarantine facility for migrant Filipinos.
Dizon added that it was also not a form of “hostage-taking”, rather a measure taken to prevent the new strain from entering the Philippines.
Since Dec. 30, foreigners and returning Filipinos have been required to undergo a 14-day quarantine in a government-approved facility despite a negative RT-PCR test. The government would shoulder the accommodation fees.
Photo: Fr. Alberic Lazerna