Barbers: Focus on vaccine smuggling, not on PSG’s vaccination of unlisted drug
MANILA, Philippines — Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said authorities should “not delve too much” on the controversial early vaccination of members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG), but rather zero in on the smuggled COVID-19 vaccines in the country.
Barbers said it was not an issue for him that members of the PSG were already inoculated as they serve as the first line of defense in protecting President Rodrigo Duterte.
He even lauded “the initiative of the head, of Gen. Durante, for doing that.”
This, even if the shots used by the PSG were obviously unregistered since the country’s Food and Drug Administration has not approved the use of any vaccine against COVID-19, and thus, a violation of law.
For the lawmaker, the issue “we should really look at” is the entry of the smuggled vaccines into the country.
“More than that [PSG issue], tingnan natin, unang-una paano nakapasok ‘yung sinasabing smuggled vaccines dito. So dumaan ‘yan sa Bureau of Customs. So, dapat imbestigahan kung saan, papaano, dumaan ‘yan dito sa atin at nakapasok dito sa atin,” Barbers said in an interview with reporters.
“Kung ‘yan ay pumasok sa legal na channel, definitely alam ng FDA ‘yan, alam ng DOH (Department of Health) ‘yan. But based on the statements of DOH and FDA, wala silang alam diyan,” he added.
Barbers said he is “sure” there is someone who is a co-conspirator inside the BOC which authorities should look into.
“Ako ang pananaw ko diyan, let’s not delve too much on the PSG issue eh. Kasi nga talaga namang dapat magkaroon sila ng vaccine kasi nga sila ‘yung nakapalibot sa Presidente,” Barbers said.
“Pero more than that, ang tingnan natin papaano nakapasok ‘yan dito, ‘di ba? Saan dumaan ‘yan, ‘di ba? Kasi kung titingnan natin, ito ay nakalusot, ay talaga namang may nagpalusot. At kung mayroong nagpalusot diyan, dapat managot ‘yun,” he added.
Barbers, however, clarified that he is still in favor of including PSG members in the investigations in order to get information on who donated the vaccines they used.
“Ang point ko is kung mayroon mang investigation na gagawin, ang tingnan hindi ‘yung sa PSG lamang kung ‘di tingnan ‘yung smuggling aspect nung vaccines na ito,” he stressed.
(My point is if there should be an investigation, do not just look into what the PSG did but also look into the smuggling aspect of these vaccines.)
“Because I am sure na may mga kakontsaba ito sa (there are people conspiring with) BOC or any other personality na (who is) involved sa pagpapasok ng mga (in the entry of these) illegal vaccines na ito dahil (because) as of today, as we speak, wala pa namang legal na vaccine na dumarating dito (there is no legal vaccine arriving here yet). In fact, naghihintay nga tayo eh (we are all waiting for it). Kaya nga nakakapagtaka na merong napalusot (That’s why it is puzzling that vaccines managed to sneak in).”
“Dun sa issue kasi na nagpa-inoculate ‘yung mga taga PSG (On the issue of PSG’s inoculation), in fact, I laud the initiative of the head, of Gen. Durante, for doing that. Because they are the frontliners to protect the President as well. Eh dapat hindi na ‘yun ‘yung tingnan natin. Ang tingnan na lang natin ‘yung smuggling, sino ‘yan, ilang piraso ‘yan at bakit binebenta sa black market. Apparently, may nagbebenta sa black market nung vaccine na ‘yan.
(That should not be our focus anymore. Instead, we should just look into the smuggling, who smuggled it, how many, and why is it being sold in the black market. Apparently, someone is selling the smuggled vaccine on the black market.)
The Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives earlier sought an investigation on the “VIP COVID-19 vaccination” of the PSG using an unauthorized and unregistered vaccine.
Under House Resolution No. 1451 filed on Tuesday, the Makabayan bloc said the PSG vaccination is a “blatant violation of multiple laws and the other to public office to uphold and defend the Constitution and to obey the laws” against unregistered drugs and smuggling.
Barbers said that if the investigation pushes through, he will participate and ask the committee to look into the smuggling aspect of the issue. Zac Sarao, trainee
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