Duterte dismayed by Leachon’s public criticism against DOH

Published June 18, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte was dismayed with the action of a former adviser of the national task force on the coronavirus response, according to a Palace official.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a press briefing in Malacañang on April 20, 2018. (YANCY LIM/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque bared the President’s sentiment against Dr. Anthony Leachon a day after he was removed as adviser of the national task force (NTF) following his criticisms on the Department of Health (DOH).

“Mismong Presidente po (It was the President who) noted that you should not be doing what you were doing,” Roque told Leachon said during a televised briefing Thursday.

“The President did not say he should resign, kasi lahat naman kami hindi kami talaga sigurado kung ano ang papel niya (because all of us were not sure about his role),” he added.

According to Roque, the President believes in the importance of a unity in addressing the pandemic and that any concerns should be discussed internally first.

“Ang naging hudyat po para talagang siguro kausapin na mag-resign na siya ay iyong mga binanggit na salita mismo ni Presidente na hindi niya maintindihan, bakit itong si Leachon ay sinisiraan ang DOH sa panahon ng pandemya (What triggered the talk that he should resign is the President’s statement that he could not understand why Leachon was bad mouthing DOH amid the pandemic),” he said in an earlier radio interview.

“Mayroon po talagang sentimyento laban sa kaniya na sinabi ang Presidente noong huling pagpupulong po namin kay Presidente noong siya po ay magkaroon ng address sa ating taumbayan. Sinabi niya sa panahon ng pandemya dapat nagkakaisa ang lahat, dapat na gawin ng mas mabuti, dapat iyan pinag-uusapan at hindi po inilalabas sa publiko (There is a sentiment against him that was mentioned by the President in our last meeting, when he delivered a public address. He said in this time of pandemic, we must all be united, do things better, and discuss concerns and not make them public),” he said.

Last Wednesday, Leachon announced on Twitter that he was no longer an adviser of the NTF a day after airing his disappointment with the Department of Health in leading the efforts against the coronavirus outbreak. He claimed that Health Secretary Francisco Duque II and Roque sought his removal from the task force.

Chief implementer of the government’s COVID response Carlito Galvez Jr. later issued a statement confirming that they decided to let Leachon go, citing the need for agencies to work together. He said Leachon’s pre-emptive release of information “jeopardized” the government’s messaging in addressing the pandemic as well as caused “unwarranted misunderstanding” between the NTF and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

Roque, in his televised briefing, denied that he and Duque were behind the removal of Leachon.

He admitted though that he talked to Duque about Leachon’s criticisms about the health department. These concerns eventually reached the President.

“Dahil ako ang tagapagsalita rin ng IATF, ako po ang namumuno noong strategic communication group ng IATF. At noong siya po ay nagsalita casting doubts doon sa figures ng DOH eh talagang lahat po ng miyembro ng strategic task force ay talagang nagtatanong, ‘bakit tayo tinitira ng ating sariling kakampi’? (Because I am the spokesman of IATF, I also head the strategic communication group. When he issued statements casting doubts on the DOH figures, members of the strategic task force asked, ‘Why is he hitting our allies?),” he said.

“Pinarating ko po ito kay Secretary Duque at noong huling pagpupulong po kay Presidente, nanggaling naman po kay Presidente na bakit nagsasalita ng ganito itong si Leachon (I raised them to Secretary Duque and in our last meeting with the President, it came from the President why Leachon was speaking this way),” he said.

He admitted Galvez felt weak when he heard the President’s pronouncement about Leachon during their recent meeting. “Siguro po, hindi po ako, hindi si Secretary Duque ang nag-udyok kay Secretary Galvez to let go of him, it was a declaration of the President himself,” Roque said.

‘We have never lied’

Roque also hit back at Leachon for trying to project the government was lying about the country’s coronavirus data. He insisted that the government has remained transparent and continued to take steps to improve data gathering and reporting.

“Kaya nga po kami nagalit kasi pinalalabas niya nagsisinungaling ang lahat except siya. Hindi naman pupuwede na siya lang nagsasabi ng katotohanan (We got angry because he made it appear that we are all liars except him. It’s not possible that he is the only one telling the truth),” he said.

“Ang datos po inilalabas natin, there is a need to improve iyong reporting ng datos to make it accurate pero walang pong nagsisinungaling (On the data we release, there is a need to improve the reporting of the data to make it accurate but we are not lying),” he said.

Roque insisted: “We do not have the monopoly of the truth and we have never lied.”