Caloocan official faces raps for illegal resort operation

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 11) — A barangay chairman in Caloocan City on Tuesday faced an administrative complaint for his supposed failure to enforce health protocols at a resort on Sunday, according to a complaint filed with the city council.

Barangay 171 Chairman Romeo Rivera faced gross neglect of duty or dereliction of duty and conduct for the presence of around 500 guests at Gubat sa Ciudad Resort in violation of minimum health standards, said city health officer Evelyn Cuevas and business permit office head Emmanuel Emilio Vergara who filed the complaint.

They said that on May 9, Vergara's office received reports that the resort was in full operation despite the modified enhanced community quarantine in place. The rule bans recreational establishments from accepting guests. Vergara's staff confirmed that Ciudad sa Gubat was at "full capacity" with 500 guests, including senior citizens and minors, who failed to observe distancing rules or did not wear face masks.

Dozens of people were also seen swimming in a giant pool despite the ban on mass gatherings.

"Due to abject failure of Barangay 171 to timely detect, monitor, control, prevent, and terminate the illegal operation of the resort and the resulting illegal mass gathering, there is now a real and renewed risk that COVID-19 transmissions in the barangay and city will be exacerbated," the complaint stated.

The city officials said Rivera failed to detect the entry and movement of 500 people in his barangay and therefore failed to prevent the mass gathering.

"As a direct result of the negligence, party-goes and groups seeking entertainment and recreation managed to freely move and travel in Barangay 171 and gather in mass in the resort," the document read.

Mayor Oscar Malapitan on Monday said the barangay chairman was aware that the resort accepted overnight guests, and the owner was warned against it on April 20.

He said the resort owner will face criminal complaints. He added the business permit of Gubat sa Ciudad will be permanently revoked.

Meanwhile, Caloocan police chief Col. Samuel Mina on Tuesday said guests who will work with authorities will only receive citation tickets, otherwise they will face consequences for violating minimum public health standards.

The local government said of the 500 names on the guest list, more than 270 are from Caloocan and the rest are from other areas.

Mina also said Caloocan police substation 9 chief Major Aaron Melgar, who has jurisdiction over the resort area, was relieved from his post.

CNN Philippines correspondent Gerg Cahiles contributed to this report.