The Philippine National Police (PNP) in Northern Mindanao relieved a controversial police officer who openly criticized Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno and city hall over what he called as the lax implementation of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) measures here.
Brigadier General Rolando Anduyan, police director for Region 10, relieved Lieutenant Colonel Lemuel Gonda as deputy director of the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (COCPO).
The relief order was released on Tuesday, August 10, but the directive was effective on Monday.
Gonda was reassigned to Camp Alagar, the PNP regional headquarters in Barangay Lapasan.
Gonda earlier called Moreno “uncooperative” in the implementation of the supposedly strictest quarantine measures in the city, particularly on travel restrictions and border control.
Cagayan de Oro has been placed under ECQ classification due to dramatic surges in COVID-19 cases blamed on the more transmissible Delta variant.
The Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed on separate occasions the detection of at least 21 Delta variant infections in the city.
Gonda criticized Moreno during an interview with the Facebook-based news page Northern Mindanao Dispatch for rejecting recommendations by the COVID-19 Regional Inter-Agency Task Force to set up focused containment measures to keep the virus from further spreading.
His pronouncements sparked a firestorm as Moreno responded harshly by calling the police official as “unprofessional,” an “armchair colonel,” and an officer with mental issues.
He accused Gonda of playing politics without elaborating, and then dared him to resign and run for public office “so I can campaign against you.”
Gonda no longer responded.
Moreno stood by his decision not to impose focused granular lockdowns, explaining that he saw the quick and strict isolation of COVID-19 carriers and their close contacts as a more effective strategy. – Rappler.com
Froilan Gallardo is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.