Magalong resignation is 'good example' for officials violating curbs to follow â Robredo
In this Feb. 26, 2019 photo, Vice President Leni Robredo talks during the Ka Pepe Diokno Human rights award at De La Salle University in Manila.
The STAR/KJ Rosales

Magalong resignation is 'good example' for officials violating curbs to follow — Robredo

(Philstar.com) - January 31, 2021 - 11:45am

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday welcomed contact tracing czar Benjamin Magalong's move to step down after attending a celebrity birthday party where guests were showed not following quarantine protocols, saying his response was only fitting for a public official.

Palace last week said Magalong had turned in his resignation, but rejected his move. Later, Magalong would say that his decision is already irrevocable.

"Dapat ganito 'yung response ng public officials na nalalagay sa ganitong sitwasyon," Robredo said over radio DZXL. "Napakaganda nung kanyang statement na sinasabi niya na 'yung mga opisyal na kagaya namin, 'yung standard na hinihingi [ay] mas mataas."

(This should be the response of public officials who are put in this kind of situation. His statement was good in saying that as officials, the standards being asked of us are higher.)

The Baguio local chief executive was the latest in a string of officials to figure in quarantine-related controversy from an administration that had struggled in its messaging on carrying out curbs, much to the public's dismay.

Last year, there was Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III accompanying his wife to the Makati Medical Center even when he was awaiting a COVID-19 test result, which later turned out positive and exposing hospital staff, as well as then Metro Manila police chief Debold Sinas whose birthday bash drew attendees despite mass gatherings prohibited.

Pimentel has since been cleared by the justice department of quarantine breach, while Sinas was named by President Rodrigo Duterte as head of the entire police force despite still facing criminal and administrative charges.

In the latter part of 2020, Duterte's own spokesperson Harry Roque and Sen. Manny Pacquiao would also drew backlash for drawing crowds in respective events they were in.

And while the police had investigated such, results had remained elusive. Salvador Panelo, counsel to the president, would have his own too, after he was caught on video singing while dining at a Makati restaurant, only for the interior department to reject a probe on it.

Such incidents have long earned criticism on the Duterte administration who had exhibited an apparent level of leniency on its men but had taken a tough stance on regular individuals, especially with the president essentially telling state forces to "shoot dead" quarantine violators.

Acknowledging own lapses and owning up to the consequence are just some things that could boost the public's trust in the country's institutions, Robredo said.

"'Pag 'yung may kasalanan inaako 'yung kasalanan, walang pagde-depensa sa sarili, ang sinasabi lang inaako [at] mananagot, tingin ko napaka gandang example," the country's No. 2 said.

(I think it's a good example when those involved admit that they have lapses and are not self-defensive. They just own up to it and be responsible.)

With the Baguio mayor's remarks that his resignation is already final, it is unclear as to what happens next and who the administration will pick to succeed him in the crucial post at a time when the country is facing another threat from the pandemic: dealing with a more infectious variant that has now reached its shores.

But if his move remains as is, his response will have significantly differed from others in government who managed to stay in their posts despite the blatant disregard for the same measures the public has been told to follow. — Christian Deiparine

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