Leachon: Secretaries Duque and Roque pressured Sec. Galvez to axe me

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MANILA – Former Special Adviser to the National Task Force (NTF) against Covid-19 Dr. Tony Leachon was on a fighting mood when he confirmed that his boss NTF head Carlos Galvez was pressured by DOH secretary Francisco Duque III and presidential spokesperson secretary Harry Roque to boot him out of office.

Leachon made his disclosure in a live TV interview via CNN Philippines hosted by Pinky Webb on Wednesday, June 18, saying that he was asked to resign due to the differences with the policies of the Department of Health (DOH).  “Sabi sa akin ni Sec. Galvez na sa meeting nila sa IATF na Sec. Duque at Sec. Roque pressured him na mag-resign ako,” (Sec. Galvez told me that in a meeting with the IATF, Sec. Duque and Sec. Roque pressured him for my resignation.) 

In his online post dated June 17, it says “I left NTF due to my differences with DOH e.g. lack of sense of urgency, problems in Covid data management, and transparency in communication process.”

He said his predicament started on his June 13 Twitter account post that DOH has lost focus on data management, risk communication, prioritization and execution of the plan. According to the former IATF consultant that he could not imagine the mediocrity of those in the department.  He said “it was almost two months and we are struggling for the data.”  

Leachon further said they discovered some discrepancies in the DOH report in the region when they visited Cebu City and talked with a number of hospital owners and frontline doctors of the real situation. 

He also asked why do we have classifications of ‘fresh’ and ‘late’ cases, which he describes as mediocre performance even in a collegial body amid this pandemic that affects the lives of 105 million Filipinos. “It is mortal sin na hindi mo sasabihin ang tutoong data,” (It’s mortal sin not to say the true data), he said.

Reacting on the comment of Sec. Galvez that the data issue and his resignation could have been internally resolved, Leachon said in a separate interview over DZBB “Bakit natin i-internal yan, na samantala yan ay data na dapat malaman ng taongbayan. Wala naman tayong itatago sa publiko bakit natin mamasahiin ang data, ang data na yan ay dapat malaman ng publiko. At saan ka naman makakita na bansa na may late cases, so ano ba talaga ang tunay diyan?” “Why do we have to make it internal when those data are for the information of the people.  We are not hiding anything from the public, why do we have to manipulate the data, the public must know the data.  And where can we see a country with ‘late cases’, what is really the true picture?), he said. 

Meanwhile, the Office of the Ombudsman has ordered an investigation on Secretary Duque and other DOH executives for certain “irregularities” in Covid-19 response.