De Lima wants Senate to probe early vaccination of PSG, Cabinet men
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Leila de Lima has filed a resolution seeking an investigation on the reported early inoculation of Cabinet members, the Presidential Security Group (PSG) and senior officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) using unregistered and smuggled COVID-19 vaccines.
Under Senate Resolution No. 603 filed January 5, De Lima pointed out several questions that have to be answered in relation to the early inoculation of some Cabinet members, the PSG and AFP officials.
“It must be ascertained who smuggled the vaccine and who distributed them to the said public officials and how they were able to do so outside government regulations,” De Lima said in the resolution.
“Those who have been vaccinated are senior officials of our country who are essential to the functioning of our democracy. As such, to have them vaccinated with unregistered and unvetted vaccines constitutes endangerment not only to themselves but also to our national security,” the senator added.
Further, De Lima said that there is also a need to ascertain the intent of the person or persons who distributed the unregistered vaccines to the officials, “and, if possible, determine if they are enemies of the State.”
The senator said that while the officials may have well-intentions in receiving the unregistered vaccines, “the fact remains that laws were still broken and our country was placed in danger by receiving this illegal inoculation without knowing its contents.”
De Lima also said withholding of information on the matter during any investigation only serves to protect criminals who smuggled the illegal vaccines into our country.
“The officials so inoculated must reveal all the information that they have on the unregistered vaccines if only to protect our country against forces seeking to influence the highest office in our land to the detriment of our people,” De Lima said.
In late December 2020, it was revealed that some members of the Cabinet, as well as the PSG have been inoculated against COVID-19. Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año later clarified that only one member of the Cabinet was inoculated with the vaccine.
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon earlier said that PSG chief, Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante III, should be summoned in the Senate hearing on COVID-19 vaccine set on January 11 to explain the controversial early inoculation among the presidential guards.
But in his weekly briefing on January 4, President Rodrigo Duterte warned Congress against “tinkering” with the PSG issue. The President also warned lawmakers against citing PSG personnel in contempt for ignoring the inquiry.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III has said that the upper chamber’s inquiry on January 11 will only 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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