MANILA – Public health expert Tony Leachon on Thursday denied claims he was after the position of health secretary following his criticisms against the agency in its late reporting of COVID-19 data.
Leachon, a former adviser of the National Task Force against COVID-19, earlier told Health Secretary Francisco Duque to “step up” and “hear the voices of the people” as the country faced a second epicenter of the virus in Cebu City.
Leachon denied allegations that he wants Duque’s position, which he had described as “herculean.”
“Hindi po totoo 'yan. Wala po akong ambisyon na maging Secretary of Health. Kung gusto ko po 'yun, sana magresearch po kayo kung anong klase ng practice ko sa Manila Doctors (Hospital). Hindi na po ako magkanda-ugaga sa practice ko, ba’t naman ako sasali sa ganito,” he told ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo.
(That’s not true. I have no ambition to be Secretary of Health. If I wanted that, research on my practice at Manila Doctors. I’m already busy with my practice, why would I join the agency?)
“Pag may ginawa kang kabutihan, laging sinasabi ikaw ay may ambisyon. Wala po akong hangad kahit i-offer po sa akin. Tumutulong ho tayo nang walang kapalit, sana naman makita ninyo kung sino ang sinserong tumutulong at sino ang hindi po.”
(When you do good, people will always say you have ambition. I have none even if it was offered to me. I’m helping without anything in exchange, I hope they see who is sincerely helping and who is not.)
Leachon said he was removed from the task force after voicing out his concern on social media that the Department of Health has “lost its focus in terms of their data management.”
“Alam niyo naman po sa Pilipinas, pag di kayo na-sosocial media, hindi magkakaroon ng aksyon. Katulad nung hindi nagbayad ho ang DOH dun sa (namatay na) healthcare workers. Every meeting po na uma-attend ako, twice a week sa IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19), lagi ko po inuukilkil ‘yang real-time, granular data. Hindi naman ho gumagalaw,” he said.
(You know how it is in the Philippines, if you’re not called out on social media, there will be no action. For example, when the DOH did not give compensation to the families of healthcare workers who died. I attend every meeting of the IATF twice a week, I always ask for real-time, granular data. No one’s taking action.)
“Out of frustration, kasi pag hindi real-time ang nilalabas na data, lives ho ang namamatay dito… Ang sinasabi natin dapat paspasan natin ito kasi kada IATF meeting naka-anchor 'yung decision-making dun.”
“I did it out of frustration, because if the data being released is not real-time, lives are lost. What we’re saying is authorities need to make this urgent because the IATF’s decision making is anchored on this.)
He added that there was nothing wrong in asking for transparency from the DOH, citing the Office of the Ombudsman’s move to investigate the agency.
“Pagpaumanhin niyo. Ang tagal po eh. ‘Yung 4 o‘clock reporting ng DOH, bakit hanggang ngayon meron kang backlog ng fresh and late? Sakin naman ho sa tingin ko justifiable naman po ang hinihingi ko,” he said.
(Forgive me. It’s been too long. Why does the DOH still has a backlog of fresh and late cases in its 4 o’clock briefings? I think what I’m asking for is justifiable.)
Leachon said he would continue to offer his medical expertise as an independent health reform advocate.
Government's pandemic response strategy has fueled rumors of discord among top officials with at least 2 government officials leaving as the country battles the pandemic.