Senate would ‘fail’ if we don’t look into PSG vaccine issue — Hontiveros
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate would “fail” if it would not look into the controversial early inoculation involving the Presidential Security Group (PSG) using unregistered COVID-19 vaccine, Senator Risa Hontiveros said.
Hontiveros made the remark Monday amid the looming Senate Committee of the Whole’s inquiry on the country’s COVID-19 vaccination plan.
While Hontiveros said that it is the prerogative of Senate President Vicente Sotto III on whether or not the PSG officials will be invited to the hearing, she underscored the importance of addressing the issue.
“That will be the prerogative of our presiding officer, no less than the Senate President [to invite PSG officers] and it wouldn’t be even forcing the issue kasi isang taon na itong pandemic sa atin (the pandemic has persisted for a year) and this is just the latest twist in the twist and turns of our COVID-19 response,” Hontiveros said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.
“Palagay ko important na pag nag-Committee of the Whole kami on the vaccination program — ‘yun ‘yung pinakapaksa ng inquiry na ito — we would fail kung hindi namin susubukang alamin paano ba ito nangyari at bakit ‘yung ating mismong PSG… ay naging subject nitong iresponsable at diumanong ilegal na pagpapabakuna with a vaccine that has yet to be approved locally by our Food and Drug Administration,” she added.
(I believe it is important that when we convene the Committee of the Whole to tackle the vaccination program, which is the main topic of the inquiry, we would fail if we will not attempt to look into what happened and why the PSG became a subject of this irresponsible and allegedly illegal vaccination using a vaccine that has yet to be approved locally by our Food and Drug Administration.)
Hontiveros further pointed out the PSG vaccine controversy is a “valid and important issue for the Senate to look into.”
It was Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon who earlier said that PSG chief, Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante III, should be summoned in the Senate hearing to explain the controversial early inoculation among President Rodrigo Duterte’s guards using unregistered COVID-19 vaccine.
But in his weekly briefing Monday night, Duterte warned Congress against “tinkering” with the PSG issue. The President also warned lawmakers against citing PSG personnel in contempt for ignoring the inquiry.
Nonetheless, Hontiveros insisted that the Senate is a separate institution from the executive branch.
“The Senate is well within our rights lalo na sa ganyang klaseng hearing ng Committee of the Whole (especially in these hearings of the Committee of the Whole) to invite resource persons to shed light on the issues that we would be inquiring into or investigating,” Hontiveros said.
“At mayroon din naman kaming sariling rules tungkol sa pagci-cite in contempt kung kinakailangan (We also have our own rules on citing in contempt, if needed) vis-a-vis resource persons who do not honor the Senate’s invitation or do not answer questions of the members of the Senate in a forthright manner,” she added.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III has said that the upper chamber’s inquiry will focus on the national government’s COVID-19 vaccination program.
Any other issue outside the topic — including the PSG controversy — may be tackled in a separate hearing, said Sotto.
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