MANILA — Public health expert Tony Leachon on Thursday told Filipinos to "forgive me for telling the truth" on the country's coronavirus response after he was booted from the pandemic task force.
Leachon said he was removed as adviser of the Inter-Agency Task Force or IATF after he tweeted on June 13 that the health department "lost focus" in terms of priorities and data management.
The Philippines has yet to see real-time release of pandemic data and is the only country whose patient tally is divided into fresh and late cases, he said.
Leachon said "I'd like to apologize" to President Rodrigo Duterte, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and other Cabinet officials "if I caused harm" with his statements.
"But it's my moral responsibility, my dear countrymen, to inform you. I would be remiss in my obligation to you... if I didn't use the talents and skills I have," he told ANC.
"All this is for the country. I hope you will always forgive me for being vocal and telling the truth to you," he said.
The health department should invest in contact tracing and "enlist the best and the brightest epidemiologists and researchers from academic institutions" to solve its testing backlog. The University of the Philippines has volunteered its services, he said.
He said he would "gladly accept" any invitation to join the Office of the Ombudsman's investigation into lapses in the health department's pandemic response.
"If it's for the improvement of the healthcare system, why not? This is not to malign any other person, but to correct certain issues," he said.
"You're talking here about lives of people, not merely bridges or houses destroyed. It's my moral responsibility as the adviser, it would be a disservice to the President and the IATF if I will not sound the alarm bells," he said.