Roque denies hand in Leachon ‘removal’ as Nat’l Task Force adviser

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday denied that he had a hand in the ‘removal’ of Dr. Tony Leachon as special adviser to the National Task Force against COVID-19.

Roque issued the statement after Leachon claimed that he and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III were behind his leaving following his recent tweets criticizing the Department of Health’s (DOH) response to the crisis and its reporting of COVID-19 cases.

Leachon also earlier said that the DOH has lost its focus, and criticized its lack of sense of urgency and transparency in the communication process.

During a televised briefing, Roque said he has no authority to compel anyone to resign and that it was no less than President  Rodrigo Duterte himself had noticed Leachon’s criticism against the DOH which is the lead agency in the government’s response on the COVID-19 situation.

“Let me correct you Dr. Leachon. Hindi po ako, hindi po Secretary Duque. Mismong si President Duterte po noted that you should not be doing what you were doing kasi alam ninyo po pagdating sa datos ng department of health, wala pong tinatago,” he said.

Roque also did not deny the Palace’s negative reaction to Leachon’s criticisms but maintained that the government has been transparent on issues relating to the coronavirus pandemic.

“You do not have the monopoly of the truth and we have never lied, saan po kami nagsinungaling? Dapat ilathala niya yan. We are perfecting the recording of cases, we have not perfected it yet but we are striving po to improve,” he said.

In a statement, Leachon said he still respects the president but it would be a disservice to him if he is not alerted to the current state of the country amid the public health crisis.

“It’s my moral responsibility to inform the public and great disservice to the president if we will not alert him the current state of health of the country on covid pandemic. I respect PRRD It’s all up to him. I’ll remain loyal to the flag,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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