By Martin Sadongdong
Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force on coronavirus disease (COVID-19), said on Wednesday that Dr. Tony Leachon had jeopardized the government’s communication efforts related to addressing the pandemic.
Galvez issued the statement after Leachon announced his resignation as a special adviser of NTF COVID-19 following his criticisms on the Department of Health (DOH) and its head, Secretary Francisco Duque III.
“[W]e have to let go of Dr. Leachon because the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) and NTF are collegial bodies that have to work in synch with each other. After all, the main objective of both bodies is to serve the Filipino people and seek the common good,” Galvez explained.
“Dr. Leachon’s preemptive releases of some information prior to official announcement and adaption jeopardized the communication efforts of the IATF and NTF, and caused unwarranted misunderstanding between two entities that should be working together,” he said.
Earlier, Leachon said that he was asked to resign after he aired on Twitter his criticisms of Duque and the DOH’s supposed outdated and slow release of COVID-19 data which, he said, could be critical since people’s lives are at stake.
In a tweet on June 13, Leachon said: “Forgive me, I think the lead agency has lost focus in everything. Risk communication , priorities, data management , and execution of all plans. That’s all it is,”
It was followed by a cryptic tweet on June 15: “Most of us avoid telling the truth because it’s uncomfortable. We’re afraid of the consequences – making others feel uncomfortable, hurting their feelings or risking their anger. And yet, when we don’t tell the truth, and others don’t tell us the truth, we can’t deal with reality.”
However, Leachon clarified that his tweets were “constructive criticisms” so that Duque and the DOH would step up their performance.
According to Galvez, Leachon had already been cautioned to refrain from doing so but he “remained deaf to collegial advice.”
“Constructive criticism among colleagues is most welcome to assure improvement but this should have been done internally to maintain unity of effort,” Galvez said.
Galvez said the government may not be “perfect” in addressing the pandemic but he assured the public that “majority of those who serve are doing so with a lot of dedication even at the risk of their own lives.”
“Although transparency to the Filipino people is our primary objective, allowing the course of the decision-making process to take place is a must in order to derive the best decision that will serve the common good,” he said.
Galvez went on to express his “unequivocal support” to the DOH and all of its personnel, including the medical frontliners “who continue to man their forts despite the losses in their ranks.”
“These times also call for compassion and understanding for each and everyone and where unity of effort should run complementary. We cannot afford to be divisive in this fight where coming together as one will make us stronger to face this global health issue,” Galvez stressed.
Nonetheless, Galvez said he maintains his respects for Leachon.
He also thanked Leachon for the services he rendered to the NTF.