Contact tracing czar and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong said Wednesday he was among guests of partyphile Tim Yap's birthday celebration that went viral on social media for alleged violations of COVID-19 protocols.
Magalong, who said he attended the party with his wife, admitted that there were instances that minimum health standards were violated during the event held at The Manor in Camp John Hay.
"I was there," Magalong told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo. "Pumunta po kami dun ng wife ko to thank them."
Photos and videos of the party have made rounds on social media drawing criticism as several attendees were seen dancing with no face masks and appearing to be in violation of social distancing protocols.
Baguio City implements a local ordinance requiring individuals in public places to wear their face masks. Violators can be penalized with fines ranging from P1,000 to P3,000 depending on the number of times the offense was committed, Magalong said.
Asked if there were violations of COVID-19 protocols in the party, Magalong responded: "Mayroon pa rin, even my wife violated it kasi nagtanggal nga [ng mask] dahil may picture taking."
According to Magalong, party attendees, including celebrities, removed their masks to eat and when they were invited by cultural performers to join in the dancing.
"Nireremind ho namin to wear masks kasi everybody was just so excited," Magalong said. "Marami naman sa kanila ang compliant. It’s just that mali lang ang timing."
Yap has apologized for photos that went viral showing his party guests maskless.
"Every activity was supervised, contact-tracing measures were followed. It's just sad what's being magnified... There's no excuse for that and I apologize for that. There's no excuse for not wearing your mask. We have to be at all times be really vigilant," Yap told CNN Philippines.
Prior to the party, Magalong said Yap was promoting local art in Baguio City and even bought paintings. The mayor said he has spoken to the popular events host over the incident and told him that the city government would consider his help in the promotion of Baguio artists.
"I understand everyone was just so engrossed, so engaged kaya kung minsan nakakalimutan but don't you worry 'yung tulong mo na ginawa sa Baguio, promoting, he’s saying good words about Baguio, tinulong mo ito sa aming artists, we’re considering all of these. Don't you worry we'll have this thing investigated, Nahihiya nga sila," Magalong said.
"We understand. It's just we have an ordinance na kailangan din namin ipatupad."