‘Mysterious, suspicious’ grant of ‘compassionate permit’ to Chinese vaccine for PSG riles Hontiveros
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontiveros on Friday questioned the grant of ‘compassionate use’ license to China’s Sinopharm vaccine upon the request of the Presidential Security Group (PSG).
“Kahit nag-issue pa ang FDA (Food and Drug Administration) ng ‘compassionate special permit,’ kaduda-duda pa rin na may hiwalay na vaccination program ang PSG, labas sa inilatag ng NTF (National Task Force Against Covid-19) para sa publiko. Hindi ito dapat dinededma,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
(Even if the FDA has issued a ‘compassionate special permit,’ the separate vaccination program for the PSG remains suspicious, which is not part of the plan laid out by the NTF.)
On Thursday, Malacañang announced that the FDA has given a compassionate use license for 10,000 doses of Sinopharm’s vaccine, which will be administered to PSG members.
The compassionate use license allows the PSG and their families to skip the line of the government’s Covid-19 priority groups where uniformed personnel are fourth on the list.
“Lagpas isang buwan na simula nang mabalitaan natin ang iligal na pagbabakuna ng mga PSG personnel, pero nakababad pa rin sa isipan ng marami ang mga tanong. There is no justifiable explanation for why they are keeping this a mystery,” the senator went on.
(It’s almost been a month since we heard of this illegal vaccination of the PSG personnel, but questions continue to linger. There is no justifiable explanation for why they are keeping this a mystery.)
“Sa patuloy na tila paglilihim, lalo lang dumarami ang naghahanap ng sagot: Ligtas at mabisa ba ang Sinopharm? Kung sinasabing may parating nang mga bakuna sa susunod na 2 linggo, bakit di na lang ito hintayin? May ginastos ba and taumbayan para dito? Magkano? At higit sa lahat: Bakit ba hinahayaang manatiling misteryoso ang mga transaksyon tulad nito?” she added.
(With details about the vaccination being kept a secret, questions continue to pile up: Is Sinopharm’s vaccine really safe and effective? If there are vaccine doses coming in the next two weeks, why can’t they just wait for that? Are public funds used for this? How much? And most of all: Why are they keeping the transaction a secret?)
Further, Hontiveros said there is “no point” for granting such a permit when there are two brands of vaccines that have already secured an emergency use authorization (EUA) in the Philippines.
So far, the FDA has granted an EUA to the Covid-19 vaccines of the US-based Pfizer-BioNTech and British drugmaker AstraZeneca.
“Dapat walang fast lane para sa PSG, lalo na kung walang special treatment ang mga health care workers natin na may pinaka-malaking sakripsyo sa pandemyang ito,” she said.
(There should be no fast lane for the PSG, especially since no special treatment given to our health care workers, who have sacrificed the most in this pandemic.)
“Hindi naman mahirap sagutin ang mga tanong ng sambayanan kung gagamitin sana ang pangangatwiran tungo sa katotohanan. The public deserves answers,” she added.
(It’s not hard to answer the questions of the public if we answer truthfully. The public deserves answers)
Some members of the President’s security detail have already been administered Covid-19 vaccines as early as September last year, PSG commander Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante III admitted in December. At the time, the FDA has not yet granted an EUA to any vaccine brand.
The vaccine shots were donated but the identity of who made the donation has not yet been disclosed.