Duterte wants Magalong to stay on as contact tracing czar

Published February 2, 2021, 3:51 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte would certainly prefer Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong to stay on as the government’s contact tracing czar, Malacañang said Tuesday despite the latter’s controversial attendance in a party in Baguio City. 

Mayor Benjamin Magalong (JJ Landingin / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Mayor Benjamin Magalong (JJ Landingin / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

According to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, the President has nothing but praises for Magalong’s work in the government’s pandemic response.

Magalong, a retired police officer, recently resigned as the government’s contact tracing czar after drawing flak for attending a party in Baguio City where health protocols were supposedly violated. The National Task Force against COVID-19 however rejected his resignation letter, citing his contribution to the efforts to combat the pandemic.

“I have heard with my own two ears. Nothing but words of praises for Mayor Magalong from the President,” Roque said during a televised press briefing. 

“Of course, I am sure, I am 100 percent sure that the President would want Mayor Magalong to stay on as contact tracing czar,” he added.

Magalong earlier said his resignation as head of the government’s contact tracing efforts was irrevocable.  The Baguio mayor, however, said in a television interview that if the President will ask him stay put, he would follow Duterte’s order.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said he plans to talk with Magalong when he visits Baguio City next week, hoping to convince him to continue his work as tracing czar. 

“He is irreplaceable,” Galvez said during the same televised press briefing Tuesday.

Testing czar Vivencio Dizon also recognized the important contribution of Magalong in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. He lauded Magalong’s humility as a public servant after admitting his inadvertent actions related to the Baguio incident.

“Lahat naman tayo ay nagkakamali pero yung kanyang contribution  sa COVID response is invaluable at irreplaceable (We all make mistakes but his contribution to the COVID response is invaluable and irreplaceable),” he said in the same press conference.