Benjamin Magalong, the mayor of Baguio City and contact tracing czar, took a lot of heat after a photo circulating social media shows him attending Tim Yap’s birthday party amid strict rules on mass gatherings.
On Wednesday, Magalong didn’t even try to deny ever going to the party.
According to him, he and his wife went to thank Yap and his team for showing people that Baguio is safe for tourists and for purchasing art pieces created by Pinoy artists.
“Ang nangyari po nu’n, prior to that, si Mr. Tim Yap and his group, nagpunta po doon sa aming art exhibit at ang dami ho nilang nabiling art, paintings… Alam niyo naman ang local artists namin, talagang naghihikahos,” Magalong said during a radio interview.
“Pumunta po kami ng wife ko to thank them,” he added.
Yap, along with a number of people, were seen without masks and face shields during the January 17 celebration in a local hotel. Baguio City slaps people who do not wear face masks in public with a P3,000 fine.
Netizens went to social media and called out what they believe was another act of hypocrisy by people of authority.
So kapag kayo okay lang may malabag na health protocols. Pero kapag kami na ordinaryong citizen,nakataas lang ang faceshield saglit, o naibaba ng konti ang mask, multa agad ng 1k!!! Wala nga naman kasi kami naiambag sa syudad ng Baguio. 😏😏😏 @MrFrankBaraan @PinoyAkoBlog pic.twitter.com/rmav8Dv1Ex
— Cherry Blossom (@ChiiReeBM) January 27, 2021
So ironic that Mayor Magalong was the one that announced CAR to be placed under GCQ yet he was there at Tim Yap's birthday party
— Wii #ArtistsPH (@wmatawaran) January 26, 2021
Some were more interested in what an eventologist is, a label given to Yap.
Magalong just stained his own reputation. Prior to the controversy, people looked at him as a stand up politician who effectively controlled the spread of coronavirus in his city,
Sayang si Magalong. 🙁 https://t.co/pIrBYSKTTz
— Jules Guiang (@julesguiang) January 27, 2021
🎉 Party, party 🎉 for tourism promotion! 🎂 🥂🦠 pic.twitter.com/bXIoornFdg
— 𝐌𝐢𝐬𝐬 𝐊𝐫𝐢𝐳𝐳𝐲 (@krizzy_kalerqui) January 27, 2021
Clearly many were disappointed at him.
Mayor Magalong, I expected more from you.
— anghel (@angellouizzze) January 27, 2021
I admire mayor magalong before, but now 🙂
— kd (@DanedKristine) January 27, 2021
The hotel has been asked by the city government why it shouldn’t face sanctions after health protocols were clearly violated during the event.
Magalong agreed that violations were seen but reasoned that Yap’s people remained “compliant.”
“Meron pa rin,” he said.
“Even my wife violated it kasi nagtanggal siya because of picture taking,” he added.
Magalong told Yap that he need “not to worry” since his efforts in promoting tourism in Baguio are being considered. Yap on his part apologized for flouting health measures.
He said that cultural dancing was performed during the event which was a tradition.
“Nu’ng natapos na po ‘yung actual nas cultural show, it’s a tradition, bababa po ‘yung cultural dancers namin tapos i-invite ho ng visitors to dance with them, community dancing. Eh siyempre kumakain ‘yung ibang guests, inimbitahan ng community dancing, sumabay na po sa community dancing, doon ko na nakita ‘yung wala ho silang masks,
“Walang entitlement po ito… Tao lang po tayo, sometimes we are just so engaged in one particular activity na talagang masayahin, minsan nakakalimutan din po natin,” he said
Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. also reminded local leaders to always prohibit mass gatherings.
“Dapat ‘yung mga mayor natin, dapat very decisive tayo,” he told reporters.
“Kailangan let’s go back to our precaution on really thinking na talagang irestrict natin ‘yung mga social gatherings,” he added.
Magalong resigned as contact tracing czar but it was rejected by the National Task Force against COVID-19 as announced by Harry Roque this afternoon.
“Tingnan natin ‘yung accountability ng isang ranking official na dapat siya mismo mag-lead ng pagpapatupad ng tama. During that particular moment, mukhang may kakulangan ako so it’s all about accountability,” Magalong told ABS-CBN News that his “resignation is irrevocable.”