Senate hearing to focus on gov’t vaccination plan, not PSG issue — Sotto
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate Committee of the Whole inquiry will focus on the national government’s COVID-19 vaccination program and not on other matters such as the Presidential Security Group’s (PSG) vaccine issue, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Monday.
Sotto made the remark as questions were raised on whether the Senate will also tackle the recent controversy involving the inoculation of some PSG personnel with unauthorized COVID vaccine.
“The Senate Committee of the Whole inquiry that will be conducted on 11 January 2020 will focus on the COVID-19 Vaccination Program in reference to Senate Adopted Resolution No. 79,” Sotto said in a statement.
“The hearing will primarily tackle the COVID-19 vaccination roadmap which includes the safety, efficacy, sensitivity, cost and supply chain requirements, access to clinical trials, local production and distribution, and the complexity of the distribution,” he added.
Any other issue outside the topic—including the PSG controversy—may be tackled in a separate hearing, said Sotto.
“All other issues that are outside the aforementioned topics could possibly be discussed in a separate hearing as the same could deviate the body from the meat of the matter,” Sotto said.
“This is to ensure that the Committee of the Whole hearing on the COVID-19 vaccination program will be orderly and precise,” he added.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon earlier said that PSG’s chief should be summoned in a Senate’s inquiry into the government’s vaccination plan to explain the controversial early inoculation among President Rodrigo Duterte’s guards.
But the Palace questioned the Senate’s alleged interference with matters of Duterte’s security.
“Pero hindi ko po maintindihan kung bakit panghihimasukan ng Senado, a co-equal branch of government, ang seguridad ng ating Presidente e gayong hindi naman pinaghihimasukan ng Presidente ang seguridad ng Senado. So siguro po, mutual respect of co-equal branches of government,” Roque said.
(What I don’t understand is why the Senate, a co-equal branch of government, is interfering with the security of the President when the President is not interfering with the Senate’s security. Perhaps, there should be mutual respect for co-equal branches of government.)
For his part, Sotto said the PSG issue “is not in my agenda as Chairman.”
“Our [Committee] of the Whole inquiry is anchored on how the Executive plans to buy, distribute, prioritize, store the P72.5 [billion] we allotted for them to procure anti-COVID vaccines. Since when are we not allowed to inquire about our power of the purse?” Sotto said.
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