Presidential  spokesman says it was Duterte himself who wanted Leachon removed

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Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday has  denied that he and Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III pushed for the removal of Dr. Tony Leachon as adviser to the National Task Force Against COVID-19.

Roque stressed it was President Rodrigo Duterte himself who wanted Leachon removed.

“When the President spoke, I hope Secretary Galvez does not mind, ang sabi talaga ni Secretary Galvez ay nanlambot siya with what the President declared as far as the statements of Dr. Leachon are concerned,” Roque said in a televised briefing.

Roque also said no less than President Rodrigo Duterte himself had noticed Leachon’s criticisms against the government actions on the COVID-19 problem.

“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.

Leachon earlier said Roque and Duque were behind his resignation because of  his  tweets critical of the DOH coronavirus response.

Leachon criticized the DOH’s lack of sense of urgency, problems in COVID-19 data management, and transparency in the communication process.

“He (Leachon) is giving me too much credit,” Roque said.

“Pambansang laway lang po ako. Wala talaga akong kapangyarihang mag-compel sa kung sino sa kanila na mag-resign (I’m just a national spokesperson. I have no power over who will be removed),” said Roque.

“Let me correct you, Dr. Leachon. Hindi po ako, hindi si Secretary Duque. Mismong Presidente po noted that you (Leachon) should not be doing what you’re doing (Let me correct you, Dr. Leachon. It’s not me, nor Secretary Duque. The President himself noted that you (Leachon) should not be doing what you’re doing),” he said.

“The President did not say that he should resign kasi lahat naman kami hindi sigurado kung anong papel niya (we don’t know what his role is here). Kaya ko kinausap si (That’s why I talked to)  Secretary Duque when he questioned DOH figures.  I thought he was an adviser to Secretary Duque. Hindi pala (But he’s not),” Roque said.

In a statement on Wednesday, NTF chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. said that Leachon was let go because of his “preemptive” release of some information that jeopardized communications between the government’s coronavirus task forces.

Galvez said Leachon had “remained deaf to collegial advice.”/Stacy Ang

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