DOH chief: Tony Leachon now a ‘volunteer consultant’

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 8) – Dr. Tony Leachon has been reverted to a volunteer consultant of the Department of Health after his appointment as a paid special adviser for non-communicable diseases drew flak from a lawmaker, Health Secretary Ted Herbosa disclosed on Friday.

“I’ve talked to Dr. Leachon and he said ‘I’m willing to be a volunteer consultant,’ nandoon sa statement na ‘yon [it’s in the statement]," Herbosa told reporters.

"He reverted back to a volunteer consultant without pay so tumutulong lang siya sa pamahalaan [so he’ll help the government] with whatever expertise he has,” the DOH chief added.

“So to me, tinanggap ko ‘yon, pinabago ko na yung kontrata niya as per recommendation of Congresswoman [Janette] Garin na dapat dumaan sa proseso if you’re going to hire a consultant and use government funds,” he continued.

[Translation: So I accepted it, I revised his contract following Congresswoman Garin’s recommendation that the DOH must follow the process]

Herbosa was referring to Garin’s comments during the DOH’s budget hearing on Thursday, when she questioned Leachon's expertise and described him as a “person whose statements were always skewed and malicious.”

READ: Ex-DOH chief says Tony Leachon 'not a public health expert'

Garin, who previously headed the DOH, asked if it was fair to pay Leachon using government funds.

Addressing this, Herbosa said “Wala tayong government funds na ibibigay kay Dr. Leachon at yung volunteer basis ay yung tulong niya sa akin bilang [We will not give Leachon government funds and his volunteer basis will be his assistance to me as] Secretary of Health to helping in non-communicable disease.”

Asked if the DOH would acquire more consultants to help the agency, Herbosa said he was open to it – particularly for the nursing sector.

“Nag-iisip ako sa nursing kailangan din natin ng consultant kasi isa sa malaking crisis yan so mga nursing expert," he said. "Although nag-create na ako ng National Nursing advisory group of technical experts."

[Translation: I’ve been thinking that the agency needs nursing experts to act as consultants because it is a major crisis. Although I already created the National Nursing Advisor Group of Technical Experts.]