The government could not let go of Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong as the country’s contact tracing czar because of his “proven competence,” Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said on Friday.
“Local contact tracing efforts have greatly improved and have become more efficient following the architecture and methodology that Mayor Magalong designed based on his experience,” Panelo said in a press statement.
Earlier in the day, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed that Magalong had resigned as contact tracing czar.
However, Magalong’s resignation had been rejected, as the National Task Force Against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) needs the local official’s knowledge and expertise to ramp up the country’s contact tracing efforts, Roque said.
Panelo echoed Roque’s statement, saying Magalong’s role as contact tracing czar is important in stepping up the national government’s Covid-19 response.
“During these times of uncertainty, however, the country needs all the help it can get, especially from those who have expertise in fields required to address the transmission and further spread of the Covid-19 virus,” he said.
Magalong decided to resign as contact tracing czar after his attendance at the Jan. 17 birthday party of celebrity Tim Yap in Baguio City received backlash.
Panelo lauded Magalong for exhibiting “delicadeza and finesse” amid the latest issue hurled at the Baguio City mayor.
Following the rejection of Magalong’s resignation, Panelo said the national government is confident that Magalong would continue to fulfill his job as the contact tracing czar.
“Moving forward, we trust that Mayor Magalong will continue to focus on his significant task of tracing those who have been exposed to the virus for proper processing and subsequent quarantine as we commit our support to him in his said colossal job,” he said.
Panelo believed Magalong would be able to help the country succeed in the fight against Covid-19.
“We need all hands on deck. Thus, the continued assistance of those with proven competence will be invaluable in our fight against Covid-19,” Panelo said.