Magalong, Palace comments make unclear his resignation as contact tracing czar
This undated photo shows Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong, who recently stepped down as the country's contact tracing czar
The Freeman/Aldo Banaynal

Magalong, Palace comments make unclear his resignation as contact tracing czar

(Philstar.com) - February 2, 2021 - 2:41pm

MANILA, Philippines — Latest pronouncements by both the Duterte administration and Mayor Benjamin Magalong on Tuesday have made his resignation as contact tracing czar unclear, a move met well by a public longing for accountability from officials that now hangs in the balance.

The Baguio local chief executive said last week that he was stepping down from the post after he figured in a celebrity party where guests had visibly disregarded the health protocols set by government that Magalong was working for.

He would later on say that his resignation is irrevocable after Malacañang sought to reject his move. But speaking to ANC's "Headstart," Magalong said he would stay on should it come from President Rodrigo Duterte.

"It's a situation that no one can refuse if the president tells you to stay and perform your job," he said. "Pero hindi naman na siguro aabot kay presidente, andami nang problema ni presidente."

(But I doubt this would still reach the president because he already has a lot of problems.)

Still, Magalong said he continues to perform the role, with him set to meet this week with other czars Carlito Galvez Jr. and Vince Dizon, all but saying too that he has to stand by his move.

"As I have said, I'm strongly promoting accountability in public service," he said. "And I came up with the pronouncement that I'm resigning irrevocably so I have to stick to that word."

But what further blurs the status of his resignation is the later comment of the Palace, where spokesperson Harry Roque said he was "100% sure" that Duterte would want him to stay. 

"I have heard with my own two ears, nothing but word of praises for Mayor Magalong from the president," Roque said in a regular briefing.

Vice President Leni Robredo over the weekend hailed Magalong's resignation, saying the Baguio mayor set a good example to follow for the many officials involved in quarantine-related controversies, which includes no less than the president's men and his now police chief Debold Sinas. — Christian Deiparine

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