General Admission

Nobody’s indispensable, not even Magalong

By Al S. Mendoza



WE are, indeed, a rare breed.

We do things in a different way—almost, if not, all of the time.

Nobody in the world can explain this yet another Filipino phenomenon.

Take the case of Mayor Benjie Magalong of Baguio City.  (He has his roots in Mangaldan, where my late brother’s wife, the kindly Francing Magalong, lives.)

Magalong resigned recently as contact tracing czar.  Irrevocably.

It was by way of punishing himself for an indiscretion.

He broke health protocols in a birthday party—a no-no.

As a key government cog tasked to uphold COVID-19 rules at all times, he is almost expected to be as infallible as the pope.

As much as possible, no room for error in the discharge of his duties.

But he bungled it.

He was caught napping, so to speak.

After social media exposed videos he was without a mask in a party at The Manor, the plush hotel inside Baguio’s Camp John Hay, he immediately owned up.

As a true soldier and a gentleman, he faced the music.

“I am not perfect,” he said.  “I blew it.”

He even went a step further—gallantly. Again.

After seeing similar videos showing his wife without a mask in the same gathering, the mayor barked:  “She will be fined, too.”

It was but a nominal amount of P1,500 for the infraction?

Yes, but it was the principle behind it that glistened in the sun.

Magalong is a retired military officer before he ran—and won—as mayor of Baguio City in 2019.

When he resigned as contact tracing czar, the nation’s upright like him cheered.

And why not?

It was but another proof that Magalong’s not a position-hugger, not one to cling to a post especially when a judgment call has compromised his standing.

But how did the rest react?

Magalong must stay.  The country needs a man of his stature.

As I write this, Magalong has not wavered even as some news items said he would reconsider if the “President so wishes.”

Fake news, I hope?

But, if not, why would Magalong not proceed with his resignation when it was, in the first place, “irrevocable?”

It would make Magalong look suddenly weak if he reconsidered.

What would happen to honor?

For, to back down now would mean losing his reputation as someone always true to his word.

Would he throw out the window all that he had amassed in the name of resoluteness, uprightness?

I’d be blunt myself:  He will lose my respect should he do a 360-degree turn.

There’s no doubt that Magalong is a worker of unbridled honesty.

Already, he’s been receiving high marks as Baguio mayor after only being barely two years in office.

He may be that good, but still, the rule must always be:  Nobody is indispensable.

There will always be as equally good as Magalong innocently strolling out there in the sand, just waiting to be tapped.

As always, no one has a monopoly of everything, anything.

For once, let’s do what the Japanese, or the Koreans, do best:  When they resign, they mean it.

That’s why they are First World.

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