Iloilo City mayor defends giving COVID-19 vaccines to other LGUs

Published October 18, 2021, 10:36 AM

by Tara Yap

ILOILO CITY — Mayor Jerry Treñas has defended his decision to give away COVID-19 vaccines intended for Iloilo City residents to other local government units (LGUs) in Iloilo province and the small island province of Guimaras.

“If there is anything illegal in this desire to help our neighboring municipalities and Guimaras by donating some of our vaccines to save lives, then I am ready to go to jail,” Treñas said in a statement.

The city mayor is facing criticisms for allegedly politicizing the donation of COVID-19 vaccines.

Aside from running reelection in 2022, Treñas is the founder of USWAG Party-list that is seeking a congressional seat. His daughter Raisa is the party-list’s second nominee.

While Treñas has previously downplayed the COVID-19 vaccine donation as a political move, he did make contradicting statements.

Last October 15, Treñas said he heeded the request of Janette Loreto-Garin for 100 vaccine syringes to help out in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in southern Iloilo province. The mayor also disclosed he was the one who issued a Certificate of Nomination and Acceptance (CONA) for Garin, a former health secretary, to join the National Unity Party (NUP).

Treñas explained that the initial 2,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines being given to other LGUs are procured by the Iloilo City LGU.

The Iloilo City LGU is currently utilizing Moderna and Pfizar vaccines distributed by the national government, which Treñas accused earlier this year of not giving enough allocation.

Treñas has previously lashed out at Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque and Secretary Francisco Duque III of the Department of Health (DOH) while also pleading that Iloilo City should be given more COVID-19 vaccines.

Meanwhile, incumbent Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. of Iloilo province and former governor JC Rahman Nava of Guimaras province have openly stated that their political allies are supporting Treñas’ USWAG Party-list for next year’s elections.