Leachon says gov’t failed to communicate COVID-19 game plan

Bonz Magsambol
Leachon says gov’t failed to communicate COVID-19 game plan
'The failure to communicate is the first reason why you fail. You have to cut through the noise,' says Dr Tony Leachon, the relieved former adviser of the national coronavirus task force

MANILA, Philippines – For former task force adviser Dr Tony Leachon, the government lacks proper communication of its response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

In a Rappler Talk interview on Friday, June 19, Leachon said that the problem of the government is not communicating to the public its vision and roadmap in the fight against COVID-19. 

“We failed to communicate properly. We failed to communicate on a regular basis. We failed to communicate what is true. We failed to communicate what is timely and right. We failed to communicate the game plan, the vision and the road map na gagawin ng bayan (that we will execute),” Leachon said.  

Leachon added: “The failure to communicate is the first reason why you fail. You have to cut through the noise.” 

Leachon was booted out of the national task force after his “episodic emotional outburst” on social media due to frustrations over Department of Health (DOH) data.

During a televised briefing on Thursday, June 18, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said it was not his nor Health Secretary Francisco Duque III’s comments about Leachon that convinced coronavirus plan chief implementor Carlito Galvez Jr to let go of his special adviser.

Leachon said during the Rappler Talk interview that he had been requesting the DOH to release granular data of COVID-19 cases since they met with President Rodrigo Duterte on April 20. 

“Who would account for the 17% unemployment rate? Who would account for the deaths of the health workers? Who would account for the economic depression? (These are) anchored on real time and granularity of the data,” Leachon said. 

According to Leachon, he voiced out his concerns because it was his “moral responsibility to tell the truth.”

“If the people around him [Duterte] will not give him proper and accurate data, mahihirapan po tayo diyan (it would be difficult for us),” Leachon added. 

Epidemiologists and other experts have long admitted the lag in data, a natural consequence of overwhelmed systems and human error.

Data analysts and experts have consistently called for improved data collection and transparency from the government. (READ: UP experts flag gaps in DOH coronavirus data)

UP Professor Jomar Rabajante of the UP COVID-19 Pandemic Team said that due to the inconsistencies and clumsy information from the DOH website, they resorted to finding other ways to get accurate data so they were not limited to the agency’s data. (WATCH: Rappler Talk: U.P. Professor Jomar Rabajante on flattening the curve)

DOH, which handles all the data through its COVID-Kaya platform, has already admitted to delays and lapses and has promised to improve the system.

As of Saturday, the Philippines recorded 29,400 cases of coronavirus, including 1,150 deaths and 7,650 recoveries. – Rappler.com

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.