Former adviser Dr. Anthony Leachon’s public criticism of the country’s Covid-19 response displeased President Rodrigo Duterte, leading to the health reform advocate’s removal, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said.

“Noong huling pagpupulong po kay Presidente, nanggaling naman po kay Presidente na ‘bakit nagsasalita ng ganito itong si Leachon?'” Roque said in a Malacañang briefing Thursday.

He also denied that that he and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III had a hand in Leachon’s relief, saying that it was National Task Force (NTF) Covid-19 chief Carlito Galvez’s decision, made after a talk with Duterte.

“Ang sabi talaga ni Secretary Galvez, nanlambot siya with what the President declared as far as the statements of Dr. Leachon are concerned,” Roque said.

“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,” he added.

Roque, who is also spokesman of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) or Emerging Infectious Diseases, said the IATF was upset by Leachon’s comments, with members of the task force asking: “Bakit tayo tinitira ng ating sariling kakampi?”

Leachon had said the health department lacked a sense of urgency as well as transparency in communication. He also said the IATF had “lost focus in everything.”

“Kaya nga po kami nagalit kasi pinalalabas niya nagsisinungaling ang lahat except siya. Hindi naman pupuwede na siya lang nagsasabi ng katotohanan. Ang datos po inilalabas natin, there is a need to improve iyong reporting ng datos to make it accurate pero walang pong nagsisinungaling,” Roque said.

Leachon announced on June 17 that he was no longer special adviser to the NTF, saying he thought he “was asked to resign.” John Ezekiel J. Hirro