Panelo twits Leachon for criticizing gov’t COVID vaccination program

Published January 24, 2021, 3:55 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo took a swipe at a former government adviser for supposedly adding fuel to the fire following his criticism about the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo

In his Counterpoint program Saturday, Panelo expressed dismay that Dr. Anthony Leachon has supposedly not contributed to easing public concern about the vaccines that can help protect against the coronavirus.

“Ikaw naman Tony, huwag ka na kasi pasok nang pasok. Wala ka na sa gobyerno kung ano-ano rin mga kinakalat mong balita. Nagbibigay ng mga opinion mo (Tony, you should avoid chiming in. You’re no longer in government and yet you’re spreading all sorts of news and giving opinions),” Panelo said.

“Sa halip na nakakatulong ka to ease, to lessen the apprehension, parang gasolinang tinatapon mo sa embers kaya nagkakaroon ng sunog. Bakit ba ang hilig mo kasing…ewan ko ba (Instead of helping ease, lessen the apprehension, you’re throwing gasoline into the embers that’s why there is fire. Why do you like it? I really don’t know),” he said.

Leachon could learn a thing or two from his brother Oriental Mindoro Rep. Doy Leachon about making pronouncements, according to Panelo.

“Gayahin mo kay ang kapatid mong kongresista, medyo okay gumalaw (Try to emulate your brother the congressman who moves pretty okay),” he advised the doctor.

Panelo assured the public that the government would only distribute vaccine supplies with proven safety and efficacy.

“Si Presidente natin, kung napapansin ninyo, ay talagang he relies strictly at that sa mga medical experts natin kung safe ba ito, kung puwede iturok o hindi puwede. Ang problema kasi mayroon din mga … gaya ni Dr. Tony Leachon (The President, if you’ve noticed, strictly relies on medical experts to determine if the vaccines are safe, if it can be used or not. The problem is there are people like Dr. Tony Leachon),” he added.

Leachon, a health reform advocate, briefly served as adviser of the National Task Force against COVID-19 last year.

He was removed from the post in June after the President was dismayed that he cast doubt on the coronavirus data released by the Department of Health.

Leachon has openly voiced his concerns about the government’s pandemic response as well as vaccine procurement efforts through Twitter.

Last month, he called on the government to be transparent about its vaccination acquisition program after questioning its supposed preference for drugs that don’t have sufficient safety and efficacy data. “Transparency is key. Safety is paramount,” Leachon tweeted.

The Palace was not pleased with Leachon’s remarks then. Presidential spokesman Harry Roque claimed that President Duterte was dismayed with Leachon after suspecting the doctor was supposedly aspiring for a government post.

Leachon denied having future ambitions to be a public official, saying he merely raised concern about the need to get safe and effective vaccines for Filipinos.

Recently, Leachon frowned on the government’s decision to allow children age 10 and older to go out of their houses, saying “using kids to perk up economy is a myopic plan.”

“The government has to prioritize which one is more important – health or economy – resolving health is key to reopen the economy; solving the health problems by reducing the COVID cases and speedy vaccination roll out will help,” Leachon, a health reform advocated, tweeted Sunday.

Leachon maintained that the only way to reopen the economy is to lower coronavirus cases and hasten the rollout of the vaccination program.

“But it has been delayed due to low acceptability rate, procurement problems, lack of transparency on the pricing, and a clear blueprint for the launch,” he tweeted.