ILL-ADVISED: Treñas junks DOH ‘twinning arrangement’

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas

By Emme Rose Santiagudo

Despite the issues and concerns he raised against the Department of Health-Center for Health Development (DOH-CHD)-6 regional office, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said he prefers to work with its current regional director in fighting the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

This was Treñas’ reaction upon learning that DOH-CHD-6 Regional Director Marlyn Convocar will no longer oversee COVID-19 response operations in Western Visayas.

In a rather puzzling memorandum, the DOH central office ordered the twinning arrangement of DOH-CHD in Central Visayas (Region 7) and DOH-CHD-6 in the management of COVID-19 response operations in Region-6.

DOH-CHD 6 Regional Director Dr. Marlyn Convocar will no longer be in the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19 battle in Western Visayas. Instead, she will now work under a twinning arrangement with concurrent DOH-Central Visayas Director Jaime S. Bernadas.

In Department Personnel Order No. 2020-023 dated April 2, 2020, DOH Undersecretary of Adbullah B. Dumama ordered Bernadas as Field Implementation C Coordination Team (FICT) Visayas Focal Person “to oversee the operations of COVID-19 Response of DOH Western Visayas and shall attend and address the various external concerns of the Local Chief Executives and all other stakeholders of Region VI.”

All the other operations of DOH-CHD 6 will be managed by Convocar.

The order said it is vital to maintain the harmonious partnership between local governments and stakeholders to ensure efficient regional management of operations amid the Covid-19 crisis.

“To maintain efficient and regional management of operations, while in the critical times of national health emergency brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, it is vital to maintain the harmonious partnership with the local government units (LGUs), local chief executives and other stakeholders that play a vital role in this emergency situation,” the order said.

DOH-CHD-6 came under fire recently for classifying all residents of Guimbal in Iloilo province as persons under monitoring (PUMs) following the confirmation of local COVID-19 transmission.

PUMs are persons who had travel history and exposure to a positive case but are asymptomatic.

But DOH-CHD-6 clarified its statement in an advisory issued Thursday, saying that residents of Guimbal are not generally considered as PUMs.

“Since the municipality of Guimbal is on Enhanced Community Quarantine. All persons are on strict quarantine (not all persons are PUMs). So, we advised that there will be a strengthened home quarantine in the two barangays where the confirmed cases are located,” the advisory said.

Among the vocal critics of DOH-6 is Mayor Jerry Treñas who demanded from the health department testing kits, mass testing, and personal protective equipment (PPEs).

But this time, the new order of the health department also shook Treñas who said that he is not in favor of the new twinning arrangement.

Ako you know, ikapila kami mag-away ni director. Ako ya, mas maayo na lang nga gina-away naton nga kabalo diri kesa islan mo sa tunga-tunga. Ako ya, I do not like the idea,” he said in a press conference on Friday.

In a separate radio interview, the mayor said he does not see the logic of replacing a “field commander” in the middle of the fight against “Covid-19.


“I feel that it is not very good to change your commander in the middle of the fight. Ikapila kami na mag-away ni Doc Convocar but para sa akon it’s not right for us to change our field commanders in the middle of the fight. If you do that, you will have to wait for the district commander to undergo a learning curve so I do not know,” he said.


“It’s not ill advised, it’s very, very, very, very ill advised and if the government is working like this then kakululbaan,” he furthered.

While arguments are normal in a stressful environment, Treñas emphasized that what’s more important is the work that is done for the sake of the city and region.


“I am not the secretary of health, I don’t know why this happened but ako ya para sa akon sa isa ka high stress environment, there will be a time na we will be fighting each other but what is important is that we are all working for the good of Iloilo City,” he said.


Daily Guardian tried to reach Convocar but there was no response as of this writing.