BAGUIO City Mayor Benjamin Magalong on Wednesday, January 27, 2021, admitted that quarantine protocols were violated during the controversial birthday celebration of celebrity Tim Yap.

Magalong and his wife attended the party at the Manor Hotel in Camp John Hay on January 17, 2021.

"Meron pa rin, meron pa rin (violation). Even my wife violated it, nagtanggal nga 'yan (ng face mask) because may picture-taking, tatayo ka, magpi-picture-taking kayo tapos uupo ka uli," he said in a radio interview.

Magalong said he and his wife attended the party to show gratitude to Yap and his group for visiting their art exhibit and for showing support to their “struggling” artists by buying “a lot” of paintings and other artworks. The group includes celebrities and social media influencers.

He said they were also thankful to Yap and his group for promoting the city's tourism and for applauding their anti-Covid measures.

Magalong, who is also the contact tracing czar and a former police officer, is known to be strict in implementing health safety protocols.

Baguio City, under his helm, served as a model to other local government units (LGUs) in terms of Covid-19 response.

Based on the photos taken during the party, guests failed to wear face masks and observe physical distancing. The photos went viral on social media.

Magalong said these are the usual protocols that are violated during gatherings.

"One way or the other... 'pag nagkaroon tayo ng happenings sa bahay or sa mga friends natin, picture-taking, sometimes ang ginagawa na lang natin, 'O walang magpo-post,' ganu'n nga po ang nangyari," he said.

The mayor said some guests, including his wife, took their masks off “out of excitement” and for picture-taking purposes. He said he wore his face mask all the time.

"Nu'ng natapos na po 'yung actual nas cultural show, it's a tradition, bababa po 'yung cultural dancers namin tapos i-invite ho ng visitors to dance with them, community dancing. Eh siyempre kumakain 'yung ibang guests, inimbitahan ng community dancing, sumabay na po sa community dancing, doon ko na nakita 'yung wala ho silang masks," Magalong said.

He said the city’s legal officer is already looking into the matter.

"Walang entitlement po ito... Tao lang po tayo, sometimes we are just so engaged in one particular activity na talagang masayahin, minsan nakakalimutan din po natin," he said.

Yap apologized over the incident, saying there is no excuse for what they did.

"I am very, very sorry for those videos that came out where we didn't wear our masks. There's no excuse for not wearing your masks. We have to be at all times vigilant and take care of each other," he said in a television interview.

"It is not in any of my wishes to endanger anyone," he added.

He, however, maintained that the guests all tested negative for Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, and went through the city’s stringent protocols for visitors.

Yap also said that guests were given face shields and face masks before the party started as a safety measure. (SunStar Philippines)