Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong came to the defense of socialite Tim Yap following a controversial party attended by the local chief executive himself.
In an interview with ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo, Magalong — who also serves as the national government’s COVID-19 contact tracing czar — admitted that he was there at the party.
Explaining his presence at the party, he said:“Nandoon ho ako. Inimbita ho ako,” he said. “Kasi ang nangyari po nu’n prior to that, si Mr. Tim Yap and his group nagpunta po du’n sa aming art exhibit, andami ho nilang nabiling paintings. Alam niyo naman ho ‘yung mga local artists namin naghihikaos. Ang dami ho nilang nabili. That was on a Sunday.
“And then tinawagan po nila ako if I could attend that’s why pumunta po kami ng wife ko to thank them and at the same time, nakita ko po ‘yung posts nila promoting tourism sa Baguio and saying good words about ‘yung process namin sa Baguio and how they feel safe dito sa Baguio because we have all this process,” he added.
Mayor Benjamin Magalong also revealed there were apparent protocol breaches such as not wearing of masks.
“Mayroon pa ring [violation of minimum health standards]. Even my wife violated it kasi natanggal nga niya [‘yung mask], may picture taking, tatayo ka, magpipicture taking ulit kayo,” he said.
According to Mayor Benjamin, “Not everyone is perfect.”
“Kahit kayo rin papaano, you’re not all perfect. Not everyone is perfect. One way or the other, meron tayong mga events ‘pag nagkaroon tayo ng happenings sa bahay or attend ng events ng mga friends natin, picture-taking. Ang ginagawa na lang natin, ‘Oh walang mag-popost,’” he said.
Admitting that they violated various ordinances, he said: “This is something na iniimbestigahan ng aming legal office. Inumpisahan po namin kahapon.”
But he came to Tim’s defense, citing the latter’s “contributions” to the City of Baguio for
“Nag-usap na ho kami kahapon. And sinabi ko sa kanya na I understand what happened. Everyone was just so engrossed, was so engaged kaya minsan nakakalimutan namin,” he said.
He went on: “Sabi ko sa kanya, don’t worry about it kasi ang tulong na ginagawa mo sa siyudad ng Baguio promoting, you’ve been saying good words about Baguio, ‘yung tinulong mo sa aming mga artists — we’re considering all of this.”
In his defense, Tim said he followed the protocols implemented by the Baguio government particularly tests making sure they all tested negative before setting foot on the City.
“I wanted to assure the public that we really followed all the LGU protocols bago kami umakyat ng Baguio. Alam po natin na ang Baguio is napaka-strict sa kanilang protocols and they will not allow anyone na umakyat ng Baguio na positive,” Tim said.
"Talagang siniguro namin, we ensured that our protocols were in place and ito 'yung mga kasama ko, mga bisita ko, mga kaibigan ko, we all tested negative," he added.
He also explained that the photos making rounds online where they can be seen without masks.
“Dahil nga dinner, buffet, kakain na sila so tinanggal nila maskara nila. Pagkatapos noon, pumasok ‘yung mga dancers na mag-community dancing, so hindi nila nasuot mask nila. Sumayaw sila doon kaya ‘yun ang nakikita natin sa social media na kumakalat,” he said.
Revealing the reason for choosing Baguio as the location for his birthday party, he said: “Ang pakay po noon is to promote Baguio as a destination, local tourism. For the past few months, I’m discovering and rediscovering iba’t ibang parte ng Pilipinas na sana ma-discover ng ating mga kababayan,” he shared.