June 21, 2024

Mayor Benjamin Magalong has tendered his resignation as the government’s contact tracing czar, following the ruckus caused by his attendance to an opulent party in one of Baguio’s hotels where video clips and photos of guests violating health protocols were posted on social media.
“I was involved in a recent incident where several lapses in protocol were committed. Being a senior officer of the task force, I should have done an immediate correction of the errors that I witnessed during that time,” read Magalong’s resignation letter addressed to Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force Against Covid-19.
Malacañang reportedly has not accepted Magalong’s resignation.
Magalong and his wife were among the guests during the birthday bash of eventologist Tim Yap at The Manor at Camp John Hay on Jan. 17.
The event drew flak from the public after video clips and photos of Yap and guests without face masks and shields and were not observing physical distancing circulated in the mainstream and social media.
Magalong said the incident reminded that “a higher standard is always expected of me.”
“It pains me to see my family and my constituents in anguish over this, but I am committed to hold myself accountable and do what is necessary to rectify this misstep,” Magalong said.
He said he will cooperate if the Task Force Against Covid-19 and the Department of the Interior and Local Government decide to conduct an investigation.
Earlier, Magalong said those who violated protocols during the event at the Manor will have to face the consequences of their actions.
Although he said his wife is not exempted from the sanctions, Magalong defended the conduct of the event, which was intended to promote the city’s creative tourism as an art exhibition was mounted at The Manor that time.
He said former Tourism Promotions Board chief Marie Venus Tan convinced Yap to hold his event in Baguio instead of having it in Dakak.
Magalong said his attendance to the dinner was a gesture of gratitude to Yap for enhancing the promotion of the city’s creative tourism.
He added Yap and his group have complied with the health and safety protocols when they arrived in the city.
During the event, he said staff members of The Manor kept reminding the guests to observe health and safety protocols.
The complication occurred at dinner when the guests had to remove their face masks and shields and were later called to participate in the community dance.
“That’s when the guests forgot to put on their face masks,” Magalong said.
Scenes showing protocol violations have circulated on social media, earning a massive criticism with some netizens saying the event should not have been allowed in the first place.
The Department of Tourism-Cordillera has issued The Manor a notice to explain.
Magalong said if the video clips and images posted on social media were the bases, there was an outright violation of protocols, but he added the circumstances that led to why the guests remove their masks and failed to observe physical distancing must be taken into consideration.
If the investigation revealed the lapses were intentional, Magalong said those responsible will be fined, even if it means sanctioning his wife who failed to put on her face mask during a photo opportunity with celebrity KC Concepcion. – Jane B. Cadalig