Govt believes Magalong will stay as contact tracing czar


Malacañang believes Baguio City Mayor Benjamin “Benjie” Magalong can be convinced to stay in his concurrent post as the country’s contact tracing czar.

In a radio interview over DZBB, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque pointed out that Magalong himself said the resignation letter he submitted was not qualified as “irrevocable.”

“Firstly, when Mayor Magalong submitted his resignation letter it did not state that it was irrevocable so that’s why we said that it is subject to acceptance and the NTF (National Task Force for Covid) rejected his resignation and that’s where he stopped,” Roque said in Filipino.

Roque said it was only a matter of time before Magalong will be convinced to stay as head of the country’s contract tracing efforts.

“I think Mayor Magalong will eventually be convinced and he’ll stay because we won’t be able to find a replacement because he authored the contract tracing formula,” he added in Filipino.

He said he expects Magalong to make a decision whether to leave or keep his post “in the next few days.”

Last week, Roque said it is “100-percent sure” that President Rodrigo Duterte wants Magalong to stay as contact tracing czar.

“I have heard with my own two ears nothing but words of praises for Mayor Magalong from the President. So, of course, I am sure, I am 100 percent sure the President would want Mayor Magalong to stay on as contact tracing czar,” Roque said.

On Jan. 29, Roque announced that the NTF rejected the resignation of Magalong who was recently criticized over his attendance at the birthday party of celebrity Tim Yap at The Manor Hotel in Baguio City where guests observed lax protocols.

Magalong earlier admitted that health protocols were violated during the birthday celebration held in Baguio City on Jan. 17.

He denied that he qualified his resignation as irrevocable despite saying in previous interviews that it was.

He said there are people whom he trusted but are now “unleashing social media warriors” to supposedly destroy his reputation following the controversial incident at The Manor hotel.

“As I, a member of IATF and at the same time the Mayor of Baguio forgot to perform my function as crisis manager, that’s the reason why I tendered my resignation, but it was not stated in my letter that it was irrevocable,” Magalong said, referring to the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

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