Drilon: Senate should summon PSG chief; probe gov’t COVID vaccine plan
MANILA, Philippines — The chief of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) should be summoned in the Senate’s inquiry into the government’s vaccination plan to explain the controversial early inoculation among President Rodrigo Duterte’s guards, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said.
“In my view, the PSG Commander must be called and must appear in the investigation of the Committee of the Whole to shed light on this issue,” Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said in a message to reporters on Thursday.
“The most important ‘who’ and ‘how’ of the story remains a mystery. The PSG commander is deliberately withholding the basic questions of who and how from the public,” he said in a separate statement.
“All they give to the public are alibis, excuses, and lies. There is more to it that will be revealed to the committee once Brig. Gen. Durante appears in our hearing…Who else was involved? How did unregistered COVID-19 vaccines enter the country? Who imported it from China?” he went on.
The Senate is set to conduct a Committee of the Whole hearing into the government’s inoculation plan after the chamber, last December 14, adopted a resolution filed by Senator Francis Pangilinan, seeking an inquiry on the matter.
Earlier, Drilon criticized the vaccination among some members of the PSG against COVID-19 since regulators have yet to authorize a vaccine for use in the country.
The senator also believes that there is an alleged attempt to cover up details on the controversial vaccination and that some officials are “lying through their teeth in a bid to protect those who are principally involved in the illegal shipment of the unauthorized vaccines in the country.”
While it has yet to be confirmed what vaccine brand these personalities were given, the President said in a speech on Saturday that many Filipinos, including soldiers, have already received the COVID-19 vaccine of China’s Sinopharm vaccine.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe the use of a still unregistered vaccine to inoculate presidential guards for COVID-19 as it might have violated several laws.
Despite fierce criticisms from lawmakers and several groups, Malacañang said there was no violation of the anti-graft law when PSG received the vaccines because these were only “tokens” and no public funds were used for it.
Neither Malacañang or PSG, however, disclosed where the vaccines came from but said that these were “donated.”
The Palace defended the early inoculation of the President’s security personnel by also insisting that it was not against to be inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine that has not been registered to regulators.
“I support the order of Justice Sec. Guevarra for the NBI to look into unauthorized inoculations against COVID-19 using unregistered vaccines. Laws appear to have been violated,” Drilon said.
“The DOJ and the NBI are mandated by law to investigate. No one is above the law. The Rule of Law must be the rule, rather than an exception,” he added.
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