By Tara Yap
ILOILO CITY – The Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV) clarified that the Western Visayas regional director of the Department of Health (DOH) was still overseeing the agency’s response mechanisms for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
“Dr. Marlyn Convocar is the regional director for Region 6 [Western Visayas]. We have trust and confidence in her,” said OPAV Assistant Secretary Jonjie Gonzales in a press conference held Tuesday, April 7, evening.
His disclosure came after last week’s controversial order by DOH Undersecretary Abdullah Dumama Jr. that directed DOH Central Visayas Regional Director Jaime Bernadas to take over COVID-19 responses for the region comprising Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental provinces, as well as the highly urbanized cities of Iloilo and Bacolod.
“Let us stop the speculation that she [Convocar] has been replaced. That is not true. She is doing well. In fact, she presided the meeting for the enhanced guidelines,” Gonzales emphasized.
Gonzales and Bernadas both met with Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. of Iloilo province and Mayor Jerry Treñas of Iloilo City to clarify the DOH order. Treñas previously expressed concern that DOH’s COVID-19 response may be negatively affected with Bernadas not knowing the terrain because his office was in Cebu.
“Dr. Bernadas will assist Dr. Convocar, not direct her,” Gonzales noted.
Gonzales said the “twinning” arrangement was meant to share best practices from the Central Visayas region.
Bernadas suggested to DOH in Western Visayas to implement the medical diagnosis system for influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) to narrow down patients under investigation (PUIs) and persons under monitoring (PUM). This scheme aims to unburden the tasks of health workers.