Magalong fines wife for violating COVID protocols

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    EQUAL treatment.

    Baguio City Mayor and contact tracing czar Benjamin Magalong yesterday proved that he does not play favorites when it comes to enforcing city and national ordinances as he announced that his wife will be fined for violating health protocols when she attended a recent party organized by social media personality Tim Yap at a hotel in the city.

    “Yes, sinabihan ko na siya na we will fine you (Yes, I told her we will fine you),” Magalong said, referring to his wife Arlene.

    Under the city’s ordinance, a first-time offender will be fined P1,000 while second-time offenders will need to cash out P2,000.

    Magalong on Wednesday admitted that his wife violated health protocols during Yap’s party when she took off her face mask while joining other guests to have their photos taken. The city official himself was present during the party that was held at The Manor at Camp John Hay on the invitation of Yap.

    Magalong had said that he went to the party to thank Yap for promoting Baguio City and for buying the art works of local artists who have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    On Tuesday, the Department of Tourism announced it was looking into reports that health guidelines were ignored during the celebration, citing a video of the gathering that went viral on social media. The DOT said the hotel venue would be penalized if it is determined that it was compliant with the violations.

    Magalong said he and his wife wore their face masks when they went to the party and removed it when they had their dinner. His wife, he said, was awed by the presence of movie celebrities and became laxed when she joined other party guests during the picture taking.

    On the case of the hotel, Magalong said the management of The Manor has already been issued a notice for their failure to ensure physical distancing among hotel guests during the party.

    The mayor likewise clarified that Yap is still not off the hook for violating health protocols.

    Magalong said “do not worry” assurance to Yap during a conversation about the investigation into the incident was meant to calm down the latter, who was allegedly “emotional” due to the negative write-ups about the party.

    If the people see his remark as absolving Yap for any violation, Magalong said: “I would like to apologize to everyone.”

    “Rest assured that we will not compromise the safety and health of everyone, at the same time we will not absolve anyone clearly violating our laws, regulations and our ordinances,” said Magalong, adding: “Whatever rules we need to implement in the city of Baguio, we will implement on everyone, even to my family.”

    Presidential spokesman Harry Roque echoed Magalong’s assurance: “When it comes to the implementation of protocols, we do not give recognition to anyone – rich, poor, female, male, regardless of gender. We need to implement this.”

    Roque said Magalong continues to enjoy the trust and confidence of President Duterte.

    Meanwhile, Mayor Franklin Odsey of Bontoc, Mountain said the lockdown of five barangays in his jurisdiction will be extended for two more weeks, or until February 14. The lockdown was supposed to end on Sunday.

    The barangay lockdown was imposed after the Department of Health said there was already a local transmission of the United Kingdom (UK) variant of COVID-19 in Bontoc after 12 residents tested positive for it.

    “That’s the recommendation of the DOH and we have to follow the recommendation to fully control the spread of the virus here,” said Odsey. – With Jocelyn Montemayor