BAGUIO CITY (UPDATE) – Mayor Benjamin Magalong confirmed reports circulating in social media that the convoy of San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora violated protocols in entering Baguio City.
In an official statement, Magalong said Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) reported that Zamora's convoy arrived at the quarantine checkpoint along Kennon Road at 2:30 p.m. on June 5, 2020.
The convoy consisted of 6 vehicles with uniformed personnel inside.
Police flagged down the group for inspection.
“The driver of the lead vehicle just slowed down a bit, and merely told the checkpoint personnel that he was part of a convoy, pointing out the vehicles tailing his police car, then forthwith sped off with the Mayor’s entourage in tow,” said Magalong.
Baguio City’s traffic police followed the vehicles until they reached Baguio Country Club.
Zamora’s group was not able to present a medical certificate which is asked of people entering Baguio City. They were then advised to undergo triage, another requirement for crossing the city’s borders.
Staff from the Health Services Office had to be dispatched to the hotel to ensure that Zamora’s group will go through the proper check-up and minimize their movement in the city.
“From this narration of facts, it can be reasonably sensed that Baguio’s health and safety protocols have been violated and the regulatory mechanism of quarantine check and triage examination at the Naguillan facility was not followed,” added Magalong.
According to Magalong, Zamora already apologized for the incident.
“He profusely expressed deep regrets that while asleep in his car at the time, the PNP escort leading his convoy mindlessly took it on his own to ignore what has long been a standard border protection measure prescribed not only in his but our own city,” said Magalong.
In a statement posted on Facebook Sunday night, Zamora expressed his apology to Magalong and the people of Baguio City, saying he and his group did not intend to break any protocols.
He said they traveled to Baguio City because his wife, who is a breast cancer patient, has a house in the city and was advised by her doctor to take a rest.
He added they complied with the protocol upon arrival in the hotel.
"Again, I humbly and most respectfully apologize to Mayor Benjamin Magalong and the people of Baguio City for this incident. There was never any intention not to follow Baguio's health and security protocols," Zamora said.
The lead escort is a police officer based in San Juan City, Metro Manila.
Magalong reported that their complaint has already reached Philippine National Police Deputy Chief for Administration Police General Camilo Cascolan.
“I am confident that appropriate steps are forthcoming for this breach of health quarantine protocols, even more so in ensuring that absolutely no one, with our without rank, be allowed to transgress safety measures put in place to keep everyone out of harm,” said Magalong.
Prior to this, Baguio City has been praised by the Department of Interior and Local Government for its intensive contact tracing measures in preventing the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Of the 36 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Baguio City, 29 have already recovered. Only one died of the illness.