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Bohol cop chief says yacht-traveling Panglao mayor violated no COVID-19 protocol

By: - Correspondent / @leoudtohanINQ
/ 06:30 PM October 22, 2020

TAGBILARAN CITY—The chief of the Bohol police has come to the aid of the mayor of Panglao town, saying the official did not violate COVID-19 health protocol when she and 16 companions traveled to Cebu recently.

Col. Joselito Clarito said Mayor Leonila Montero did not violate any rules on social distancing and other measures to prevent the spread of SARS Cov2, the virus that causes COVID-19, contrary to allegations and reports.

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Clarito, who heads Bohol’s Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) security cluster, was tasked with investigating Montero’s case. He recommended to Bohol Gov. Arthur Yap that the complaint against Montero be “dropped and closed.”

Last month, two residents of Panglao, a tourist town in Bohol, filed a complaint against Montero for alleged breach of health protocol when she and 16 companions went to Cebu.

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In a letter to Yap, Vito Dumalag and Jonas Hormachuelos, both from Panglao, said Montero should be held “answerable for gross misconduct, gross neglect of duty” and violation of at least two laws—Bayanihan to Heal As One Act and Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.

The complainants said Montero and her 16 companions did not secure clearance to travel from the local IATF, did not submit themselves to testing and did not go on quarantine.

Montero and 16 other individuals traveled to Cebu City from Panglao last Sept. 16 aboard a private yacht without complying with measures in place to fight the pandemic, the complainants said.

When Montero and party were in Cebu, they also allegedly violated protocol by not securing clearance from Bohol. They went to a dinner party and stayed in Cebu City until Sept. 17, according to the complainants.

When Montero returned to Panglao, she and some of her staff members, who were with her in Cebu City, attended a public gathering.

The two complainants said in their letter to Yap that instead of just directing police to investigate the mayor, the local IATF should have created a panel composed of a public prosecutor, a police investigator or NBI agent in Bohol, a reputable community leader and members of the IATF.

“The investigating team must not only appear to be impartial, but it must also be publicly perceived to wield authority to probe a sitting mayor,” they said.

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They said the investigation conducted by the Bohol police was not only haphazardly done but was also devoid of any credibility. They said it clearly demonstrated how submissive the police can be in the face of an adversarial and influential mayor.

The two Panglao residents said that even if Montero was authorized to leave her residence as a town official, not everyone with her in Cebu had the same clearance.

“The fact that Mayor Montero tolerated the company of these individuals,” the complainants said, “was already tantamount to a deliberate defiance of health protocols on her part.”

Montero, in a speech before Panglao’s council, said she complied with health protocol upon her return to the town.

Panglao, so far, has zero cases of COVID-19.

The mayor said when she returned to Bohol, she had herself isolated and tested, even if she was exempt “from such protocol being the local chief executive” and chair of the IATF in Panglao. She said IATF and Department of Interior and Local Government advisories support her stand.

She said she was quarantined in a facility being maintained by the municipal health office where she had been under constant monitoring.

“If it is a sin to serve my community even at the risk of one’s health and well-being, then I am guilty,” Montero said.

“But no one can ever accuse me of being negligent of my responsibilities as a mayor and as a leader to my town and my fellow Panglaoanons,” said the mayor.

TSB

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TAGS: #COVID19PH, Bohol, Cebu City, Health Protocol, mayor, Panglao, violation, yacht
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