Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has called for a Senate probe into the reported early vaccination of select members of the Cabinet, the Presidential Security Group (PSG), and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) using unregistered and smuggled coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines.
In filing Senate Resolution (SR) 603 on January 5, De Lima underscored the need to ascertain who smuggled the vaccine and who distributed them to select public officials and how they were able to do so outside government regulations
“There is a need to inquire as to the facts surrounding the early inoculation of members of the Cabinet, the PSG, and AFP officials,” she said. “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,” she added.
De Lima stressed that no less than Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana admitted that illegal means were undertaken for President Duterte’s close-in security to be vaccinated ahead of everyone else with unlicensed drugs.
While Lorenzana said the PSG has to explain to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for violating the country’s regulatory laws, De Lima said he defended their action by saying that it was “justified” because they supposedly did it to effectively carry out their duties.
The PSG team that works as close-in security of Duterte has reportedly completed in a secret fashion their two doses over a month ago, an activity that only came to light after the President revealed that “almost all soldiers” have been jabbed with China-made vaccine Sinopharm — which has not even applied for clinical trial nor emergency use in the Philippines.
In his address to the nation last January 4, Duterte ordered the PSG to remain silent on its clandestine and illegal vaccination if asked by Congress to appear in its investigation.
De Lima, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare, and Rural Development, said that withholding of information on the said issue during any investigation only protects the criminals who smuggled and are probably still smuggling these illegal vaccines into the country.
“While officials may invoke their well intentions in receiving the unregistered and unvetted vaccine, the fact remains that laws were still broken and our country was placed in danger by receiving this illegal inoculation without knowing its contents,” she said.
“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,” she added.