Galvez, Dizon told to ‘focus on COVID-19 pandemic’ amid word war vs ex-NTF adviser Leachon

September 2, 2021 - 4:05 PM
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Galvez, Leachon, Dizon
Photos of vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Dr. Tony Leachon, testing czar Vince Dizon (Facebook/National Task Force Against Covid19, Tony Leachon)(The STAR/Mong Pintolo, file)

Two officials of the National Task Force against COVID-19 told off their former special adviser instead of addressing the worsening pandemic situation in the country.

Dr. Tony Leachon made this comment in his statement after czars Carlito Galvez and Vince Dizon voiced out their criticisms against him in a Palace briefing on Wednesday.

Leachon was told to resign from the NTF in June last year after he made public some issues involving the country’s health system and the government’s COVID-19 pandemic response.

READ: A look at the online posts that led Leachon to leave as COVID-19 adviser

The word war

Since last week, Galvez and Leachon had engaged in a word war about possible solutions to resolve the spread of the Delta variant in the country.

In a previous interview with CNN Philippines, the latter talked about the need to “rationalize” the choice and procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.

Leachon also described the country’s health crisis as a “perfect storm,” citing factors such as record-breaking cases, rising active cases and running out of hospital beds.

These remarks reached Galvez, NTF chief implementer and vaccine czar. In a briefing on September 1, he alleged that Leachon was “posturing” to be the next health secretary during his stint in the task force.

“Iyong word na ‘posturing’ I believe sa kaniya iyon eh kasi talagang nagpu-posture siya para mag-secretary siya ng DOH.  Kasi noong nasa NTF siya, lagi niyang sinisiraan si Sec. Duque at saka po anong ginagawa ng DOH,” Galvez said.

“Noong malaman ko na ‘yung posturing niya pala noon na gusto niyang mag-secretary ng DOH, talagang tinanggal namin siya. Iyon ang ano namin kaya dapat iyong mga tao tingnan natin po kung saan nanggagaling ang context ng kaniyang pagsasabi na nagpu-posturing ang government,” he added.

Dizon, NTF deputy chief implementer and testing czar, also joined in and stood by the COVID-19 vaccine brands being distributed in the country.

“Tingin ninyo po ba aabot po tayo ng 14 million fully vaccinated Filipinos ngayon given na iyong supply ng mga western vaccines ay napakahirap makuha? Iyon po ang tanong natin kay Dr. Leachon,” he said.

Reuters’ global vaccine tracker reported that the Philippines has only fully vaccinated 15.6% of its population.

‘No to personal attacks’

In response to both officials, Leachon on Wednesday lamented that Galvez and Dizon prioritized airing out grievances against him instead of focusing on the ongoing pandemic.

“Our leaders in DOH/NTF should focus on the issues and must have the sense of urgency in addressing this pandemic. Concocting personal attacks against well-meaning citizens is a waste of time,” he said.

“We are in the worst situation in the Covid response. God bless our country,” he added.

The health reform advocate also clapped back at Galvez and described him as “bereft of any logical argument.”

“It seems that the Secretary is already bereft of any logical argument on the issues at hand, that he must resort to personal attacks, questioning my expertise and insinuating that I aspire to become a Secretary of the Department of Health,” Leachon wrote.

He also denied Galvez’s claim that he aspires to become a health secretary.

“I am just an ordinary private citizen who aspires to make a difference through public health advocacy. I am happy where I am, and I am certainly not aspiring for public office,” Leachon said.