‘Poblacion girl’ pleads guilty; slapped P20K fine

She apologized for the hassle she caused


Lesson learned.

The Makati City Regional Trial Court yesterday slapped Gwyneth Anne Chua with a P20,000 fine after she entered a guilty plea to the charge that she broke Covid-19 quarantine regulations in December last year by leaving the Berjaya Hotel.

Chua appeared before Judge Maureen Rubio-Marquez and did not contest the accusation that she violated Republic Act 11332, the law that set guidelines on the management of Covid’s spread.

She had been tagged as “Poblacion girl” by netizens after she was seen partying just two days into her mandatory quarantine for Covid upon arrival from the United States.

“She apologized for the hassle she caused,” Assistant City Prosecutor Rafael Rodrigo Esguerra said of Chua who, along with her lawyers, refused to give an interview to the media outside the courtroom.

The case against security guard Esteban Gatbonton for allegedly facilitating Chua’s escape from the hotel serving as a quarantine facility will continue as he entered a “not guilty” plea.

“That kind of accusation necessarily assumes that he has the obligation to detain,” Gatbonton’s lawyer Jose Bernas said of the plea. “I don’t see where the obligation is, and I don’t think that he has the power to detain or even to restrain.”

Bernas said Chua’s guilty plea will not affect the guard’s case as they are separate.

“It’s irrelevant. Someone might plead guilty simply for expediency. A guilty plea does not necessarily mean an admission of guilt. It’s just an acceptance of the penalty,” he claimed.

During Monday’s arraignment, Chua was with her parents Allan and Gemma, and boyfriend Rico Atienza who were all initially included in the complaint after it was established the father fetched her from the hotel on 22 December 2021 and the mother accompanied her when she returned to the hotel three days later.

The boyfriend, on the other hand, partied with her in a bar in Poblacion, Makati on 23 December. However, the prosecutors ruled they found insufficient evidence to charge the boyfriend and parents in court.

Chua later on tested positive for Covid-19, along with 15 of her close contacts.

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