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Magalong says San Juan Mayor Zamora’s convoy disregarded Baguio checkpoint

The entourage of San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora violated health security protocols when they sped off from a checkpoint into Baguio City, Mayor Benjamin Magalong said Sunday.

In a statement released online, Magalong said Zamora's six-vehicle convoy, including uniformed personnel, arrived in Baguio City around 2:30 p.m. on Friday, June 5, 2020.

"When his group was flagged down 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," the Baguio Mayor said.

Magalong, who said he was in Metro Manila on official business at the time, received the report from Philippine National Police Baguio City Director Allen Rae Co.

Magalong said the Zamora convoy was then followed by security personnel until they arrived at the Baguio Country Club (BCC), where they were asked to present their medical health clearance, but were unable to do so.

The convoy was then requested to undergo triage examination for the coronavirus at the BCC where a facility was set up by the City Health Service Office to accommodate them.

"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 Naguilian facility was not followed," said Magalong.

Baguio City was earlier hailed as a model city in fighting the coronavirus. It has since imposed strict regulations for those entering and exiting the city.

Zamora sorry, says he was asleep

In the same statement, Magalong noted, however, that Zamora—who was said to have been asleep when the incident happened—has issued an apology.

"To his credit, Mayor Zamora took the effort to inform me about this incident and apologized for the serious lapse on the part of his police escorting officer," said Magalong.

"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," he added.

He noted, however, that the police officer who served as lead escort committed a breach of protocols, and complaints have since been filed.

"It is clear that the San Juan City-based police officer who served as lead escort of his City Mayor’s convoy has committed a serious breach of standing quarantine protocols," said Magalong.

"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 or without rank, be allowed to transgress safety measures put in place to keep everyone out of harm," he added.

Persona non grata

Citizens of Baguio City have since launched a petition on to declare Zamora as a persona non grata following the incident.

"By ignoring protocols and initiatives of the City of Baguio, one of the cities in the country that serves as a model in the fight against the spread of Covid-19 thanks to the discipline and genuine concern of its citizens and the city's current leadership, San Juan City Mayor Zamora, arrogantly and selfishly, spat in the face of every Baguio citizen who's sacrificed so much to keep the city safer," the petition read.

The petition was started by Karlo Marko Altomonte before the Office of the Vice Mayor and Presiding Officer City Council of Baguio. — BM, GMA News