‘Wrong in so many levels:’ De Lima hits AFP chief’s letter to Chinese envoy
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Leila de Lima on Wednesday criticized Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. for making a personal request to the Chinese embassy seeking assistance to procure unregistered medicine for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“The letter of the AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Felimon Santos to the Chinese Ambassador asking for a non-FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved medicine to give to his friends is wrong in so many levels,” De Lima said in a dispatch from Camp Crame, where she is currently detained.
Solicitation of personal favors by public officials is a violation of the country’s anti-graft and corruption laws, the senator said.
“Second, the dispensation of medicine by a non-licensed individual is an illegal practice of medicine in violation of the Medical Act,” De Lima further said.
“Even doctors who prescribe non-FDA approved medicines are in danger of losing their license,” she added.
De Lima pointed out that being the highest military officer in the country, Santos is “the ultimate person charged with protecting our national interest.”
“For him to owe a debt of gratitude to any foreign entity is a conflict of interest at best and treason at worst,” she said.
“We are in the middle of a territorial tension against China, and our armed forces and our country need an assurance that the integrity and loyalty of our Chief of Staff are beyond question,” she added.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, likewise, said the fact that the letter was recalled: “is an admission that there is something wrong with the ‘personal request’ made by the CSAFP Gen. Felimon Santos Jr.”
The senator added that Santos is under the “sole authority” of the President, who is the commander-in-chief.
“His (Santos) critics are just that, and no matter how they pray to God Almighty that he be sanctioned or removed, what they are only capable of doing is to file appropriate charges against the man, who by the way is retiring compulsorily four months from now,” the senator said.
In an undated letter to Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian, Santos had requested help for the “procurement of 5 boxes of Carrimycin tablets which is available only in China.”
“I believe that the said medicine helped in my recovery from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection and I intend to give the said drug to my close friends who have also been infected,” his letter to the ambassador said.
However, Santos recalled the letter two days after he sent it when he learned that the said medication has yet to be approved for use of COVID-19 patients.
Santos was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 27. He said he had taken the tablets, which were given by a Chinese friend, twice a day for six days with the clearance of his doctors.
On April 5, the AFP chief’s COVID-19 test result came out negative.
Santos clarified that his letter had nothing to do with Manila’s ongoing dispute with Beijing in the West Philippine Sea.
“I just really want to help others, hirap tumagal sa isolation [it’s hard to stay longer in isolation]…Malayo naman po siguro sa [that is far from the issue on] West Philippine Sea. Focus is on the pandemic,” he earlier told INQUIRER.net.
The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link.