AFP probe of PSG’s coronavirus vaccination scandal to start Jan. 5
MANILA, Philippines—An investigation of the Presidential Security Group’s (PSG) use of unauthorized Chinese coronavirus vaccines will begin on Tuesday (Jan. 5), the military said.
The 10-man investigating team will be led by Lt. Gen. Franco Nemesio Gacal, the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Inspector General, said AFP spokesperson Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo at a press briefing on Monday (Jan. 4).
Members of the team will come from different units, including the Judge Advocate General, Provost Marshal and office of the AFP deputy chief of staff for intelligence.
Arevalo said the military would be transparent in its findings. “The commitment is to get to the bottom of it and determine if there were any violations,” he said partly in Filipino.
Last week, AFP chief Gen. Gilbert Gapay ordered an investigation of the controversy.
Gapay said he was not privy to the circumstances involving the source of the vaccines and the use of these by President Rodrigo Duterte’s close-in security detail.
PSG commander Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante III earlier said that some of his unit’s members inoculated themselves in September and October. He did not disclose the manufacturer and the source of the vaccines.
It was Duterte who first revealed the use of vaccines from the Chinese state company Sinopharm by members of the Philippine military, including those in the PSG. Sinopharm has yet to obtain approval for use of its vaccine from the Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration.
Arevalo said the military investigation has no timeline set but Gapay would want it to be finished as soon as possible.
“We will know in the details we want to establish, through fact-finding investigation, the commitment of the AFP in not tolerating anyone among us who commit mistakes,” Arevalo said in Filipino.
The controversy has not made a dent in the AFP’s support for the PSG amid criticisms and promises of an impartial investigation.
“We recognize the sense of dedication of our select members in offering themselves for vaccine inoculation because it is their objective and mandate to protect the President,” Arevalo said in Filipino.
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