Police officer critical of CDO mayor’s handling of COVID sacked

Cagayan de Oro City mayor Oscar Moreno, a senior citizen, gets his first dose of CoronaVac on Thursday, April 29, 2021 at the JR Borja General Hospital in Cagayan de Oro City. The city government started vaccinating the first batch of 1,500 senior citizens on April 29 and 30, 2021. Photo courtesy of Maricel Casino-Rivera

CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 11 August) – The Philippine National Police (PNP) regional office in Northern Mindanao relieved a controversial police officer who was critical of Mayor Oscar Moreno’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The relief order issued by Brigadier General Rolando Anduyan, PNP regional director, relieved Lt. Col. Lemuel Gonda from his duties as deputy director of the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office.

The order, signed by Lt. Col. Ramil Wafer, was released Tuesday but became effective last Monday yet.

Gonda was transferred back to the PNP regional headquarters in Camp Alagar, Barangay Lapasan here.

Gonda had accused Moreno of being “uncooperative” in the implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine measures in the city.

Cagayan de Oro was placed under the strictest quarantine measures following a surge in COVID-19 cases and the discovery of at least 21 Delta variant cases in the city.

Gonda thrashed Moreno during an interview with the Facebook-based news page Northern Mindanao Dispatch for rejecting recommendations by the regional Inter-Agency Task Force to set up focused containment measures to check the spread of the virus and its Delta variant.

Moreno called the police officer “unprofessional” and even dared him to resign and run for public office.

The mayor said he thumbed down the recommendation to impose focused granular lockdown, saying that a quick and strict isolation of COVID-19 patients and their close contacts was a more effective strategy.

The relief order for Gonda also involved a major reshuffle among several officers in the city police force. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)