By Angel Castillo
FOLLOWING backlash for his involvement in a birthday party celebration where lapses in observance of safety protocols were recorded on camera, Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong has tendered his resignation as the country’s contact tracing czar.
“I was involved in a recent incident where several lapses in protocol were committed. In hindsight, being a senior officer of the Task Force, I should have done an immediate spot correction of the errors that I witnessed at that time. Much as I have given my best to discharge my duties for the Task Force, this incident has been a reminder that a higher standard is always expected of me,” Magalong wrote in his resignation letter to National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.
However, Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. confirmed that the palace has rejected Magalong’s resignation.
“Mayor Magalong’s resignation, however, has not been accepted,” Roque said in a statement. “He continues to enjoy the trust and confidence of the leadership of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19.”
Galvez has also spoken out in the incident, defending Magalong and claiming that the lapses were not indicative of the mayor’s “true character,” adding that Magalong has aided the task force and the country significantly.
“It was painful for us when he submitted his resignation letter to me, but we could not accept it because Mayor Benjie Magalong has done so much for us,” Galvez said.
Galvez also said that while investigations into the incident are underway, Magalong continues to enjoy their “full support.”
Galvez added that the public should let the process run its due course and assured that the violators will be dealt with in appropriate ways.
Meanwhile, Magalong, despite continued support from the NTF and the Malacañang, has insisted that his resignation is “irrevocable.”
Magalong is the latest public official to be caught in violation of health and safety protocols, with Roque, Police Chief Debold Sinas, Senator Koko Pimentel, and former spokesman Salvador Panelo having previously faced health and safety protocol breaches.