With a more contagious COVID-19 variant currently spreading, people have been advised to follow strict health protocols or at least avoid crowded places to prevent further its spread.
Many celebrities, however, have been caught breaking social distancing orders, even though many of them have been telling their fans to follow the government’s quarantine rules seriously.
Case in point, “eventologist” and lifestyle personality Tim Yap has been trending on Twitter since Wednesday for celebrating his 44th birthday in Baguio City and throwing a “maskless” party attended by people in his close circle, including actress KC Concepcion and Baguio City Mayor Benjie Magalong and his wife Arlene.
Magalong admitted that he and his wife attended the controversial party at The Manor Hotel, where protocols on wearing a face mask and social distancing were not observed as seen on viral photos.
“I would just like to clarify, I was there,” Magalong said in a radio interview, referring to the party organized by Yap for his birthday.
Magalong has been widely praised for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in Baguio City and is the country’s “contact tracing czar.”
A retired police general, Magalong said he and his wife attended the event to thank Yap and his group for providing assistance to Baguio’s struggling artists, as well as promoting and applauding the city’s tourism and COVID-19 response.
But some media observers have strong reservations why the city chief executive allowed violations of the health protocols.
The city’s legal officer is already investigating the incident, Magalong said but stopped short of saying when the results would be announced.
The photos and videos, taken from the Igorot-inspired party, made their rounds on social media and became viral after netizens criticized how the attendees behaved considering the city is under modified general community quarantine or MGCQ and mass gathering is still discouraged.
Speaking to CNN Philippines, Yap apologized for the health protocol violations during his birthday party at a hotel in Camp John Hay on Jan. 17.
“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. It is not in any of my wishes to endanger anyone,” Yap said.
He defended the party, saying he and the guests were just “carried away” when cultural dancers started to perform when they were about to have dinner.
“People were dancing and there were no masks. Of course, everything looks like a party, but it was edited. What actually happened, everybody was on their way to eat dinner then all of a sudden, the cultural dance happened so cultural dancers pulled everybody and even myself got carried away and we invited everybody to do the cultural community dance,” he explained.
Yap also pointed out that his guests were tested prior to going to the City of Pines to celebrate with him.
“Everybody is COVID negative in our room. Every activity was supervised. Contact tracing measures are also followed,” Yap maintained.
In a statement posted on Facebook on Wednesday, the Baguio City Public Information Office said the city government was giving the hotel in question 72 hours “to explain why it should not be sanctioned over celebrity party protocol breach.”
In a separate interview, Yap said that he organized an Igorot-inspired party to promote local tourism. This prompted the Department of Tourism Cordillera Administrative Region to investigate what really transpired in Yap’s party.
“The DOT Cordillera Administrative Region is currently investigating the reported party at a DOT-accredited accommodation establishment in Baguio City. A Notice to Explain has been issued to the establishment,” the agency said in a statement.
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