'I think I was asked to resign': Leachon out as COVID-19 task force adviser
This undated photo shows health reform advocate Tony Leachon.
Tony Leachon, Facebook

'I think I was asked to resign': Leachon out as COVID-19 task force adviser

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - June 17, 2020 - 4:30pm

MANILA, Philippines — Dr. Tony Leachon said Wednesday he was no longer an adviser of the government’s national task force on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

In a tweet, Leachon said he would no longer serve as the adviser to Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., the chief implementer of the national action plan against COVID-19.

When asked on CNN Philippines if he was fired or if he stepped down as adviser, Leachon replied, “I think I was asked to resign.”

“It’s an acceptance on my part because it would be a shame to be a burden to Secretary Galvez and I have the highest respect for Secretary Galvez,” Leachon said in English and Filipino.

"It hurts me because I know I can add value to the crusade but I don’t want also to be a burden to Secretary Galvez,” he added.

'Off-strat' communication style

The health reform advocate said his manner of communicating with the public did not align with the communication strategy of the Malacañang.

Days before his departure from his post, Leachon said in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III should “step up.” He also advised Duque to “perhaps reflect, rest and recharge.”

Leachon also tweeted over the weekend that be believes the DOH “has lost focus” in risk communication, priorities, data management and execution of plans.

“I feel it’s a constructive comment so that the health agency will shape up knowing this is not business as usual,” Leachon told CNN Philippines.

He also said that Galvez had told him that Duque and presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. did not like the way he publicly expressed his comments on the lapses of the DOH. 

“My manner of communicating to the public that is truthful, transparent, open and straightforward may not be aligned with the communication strategy of the Palace. I think that is where we disagreed,” Leachon said.

“Time and again, I was asked not to speak on my independent views that I think would be helpful for the country. I think that is where that started,” he added.  

The Office of the Ombudsman said Monday it would look into the supposed irregularities of Duque and other DOH officials in the handling of the COVID-19 crisis. 

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