Magalong says to stay as COVID-19 tracing czar if Duterte wants


Posted at Feb 02 2021 09:03 AM | Updated as of Feb 02 2021 04:34 PM

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MANILA (UPDATE) - Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong on Tuesday said he will stay as the country's contact tracing czar if President Rodrigo Duterte asks him to, but he is hopeful his resignation will not reach the level of the chief executive.

"It is a situation where no one can refuse if the President tells you to stay and perform your job. I cannot refuse the President," he told ANC's Headstart.

"Pero hindi naman siguro aabot na kay Presidente, ang dami nang problema ni Presidente. Siguro at the level of Sec. (Carlito) Galvez, makapag-desisyon na," he said, referring to the chief implementer of the Philippines' national policy against COVID-19.

(But it probably won't reach the President, he has many problems already. Perhaps at the level of Sec. Carlito Galvez, a decision will be made.)

Magalong tendered his "irrevocable" resignation from being the contact tracing czar following his attendance at a party where COVID-19 protocols were violated. 

Malacañang had said Magalong's resignation "has not been accepted" before he insisted that it was irrevocable.

"I’m not denying that I failed to perform my job. I should have reminded people, I should have cautioned people to wear their masks but hindi ko nagawa ‘yun (I was not able to do that)," Magalong said.

He said as of Monday, he continues to perform his job as contact tracing lead, but he stands by his resignation. 

He said he will be meeting with Galvez and COVID-19 testing czar Vince Dizon to reiterate that his stepping down is irrevocable and that he will still help with the country's contact tracing efforts.

"I’m strongly promoting accountability in public service and I came up with the pronouncement that I am resigning irrevocably. I will stick to my word, I will stand by my declaration," he said.

The local government of Baguio City has imposed a fine of P1,500 each on those who participated in the event, which was hosted by media personality Tim Yap and was attended by some 30 people, including a handful of celebrities. The same fine was imposed on Arlene Magalong, the mayor's wife.

The Manor inside Camp John Hay was also fined a total of P9,000 for its violation of local rules on face masks, physical distancing, as well as new-normal protocols.


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