Gatchalian says it’s okay to immunize PSG ‘frontliners’; says public confidence on vaccines must be bolstered

Published January 6, 2021, 5:46 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday said he sees nothing wrong with prioritizing members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) in the vaccination against COVID-19.  He said he considers them as frontliners for protecting the Philippines’ highest official.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

“Personally I don’t find anything wrong with giving the PSG vaccines. Trabaho nilang protektahan ang ating Pangulo, eh (Because it’s their job to protect our President). Trabaho nila protektahan ang ating Pangulo, na siguraduhin na hind siya malalagay sa alanganin, at kailangan ‘yon ng physical contact (It’s their job to protect our President, to make sure that he will not be in danger, and you need physical contact to do that),” Gatchalian said in a online press briefing.

“You cannot protect the President with social distancing. Kaya (That’s why) I don’t see any issue in giving the PSG priority,” he maintained.

President Duterte, last December, bared that several people in government , including members of the military, have already been immunized against COVID-19 using a vaccine that has not yet been approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

This information was later confirmed by officials in his Cabinet, including PSG chief Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante III, who said that PSG personnel have been given the vaccine shots as early as September.

“Ang Pangulo natin ang isa sa mga pinaka-importanteng tao sa ating bansa. Siya ang gumagawa ng desisyon para sa kabutihan ng ating bansa, at dapat maprotektahan siya lalo na sa ganitong panahon, dahil ang mga desisyon niya, makakaapekto sa sa atin (Our President is one of the most important persons in our country. He makes the decisions for the good of the country, and he should be protected most especially during this time, because his decisions will affect all of us),” Gatchalian said.

“Paano kung may sunog (What if there is a fire)? Kung may nagtangka sa buhay niya (When someone threatens his life)? Importante na ‘yong PSG ay ready at any time (It’s important that the PSG is ready at any time). So ako, I consider PSG as a frontliner, beause ang trabaho nila, bigyan ng proteksyon ang ating Pangulo (because their job is to protect our President),” he said.

Gatchalian said what he is concerned about is that fact that the administered vaccines were “smuggled” ahead of the FDA’s approval.

He said he fears that if the unregistered vaccines resulted in any untoward incident such as death or illness, or were ineffective, “the people will have doubts with our vaccine program.”

“Baka wala nang magpabakuna kung may namatay dyan (Nobody would want to get vaccinated if someone dies). Isa lang ang madisgrasya dyan, wala nang magpapabakuna at magkakaroon na ng problema (Just one of them suffering a risk and nobody would want to get vaccinated anymore, and then we would be having a problem). We don’t want another Dengvaxia to happen again,” he said.

A survey conducted by the OCTA Research Team found that only one in four respondents from Metro Manila is willing to be inoculated against COVID-19 if the vaccines are become available in the country.

Seventy-five percent, on the other hand, either remain undecided (47 percent) or unwilling to get vaccinated (28 percent).

“So ang ating isyu, isang hurdle na dapat nating lampasan ay ‘yong confidence ng tao (So the issue that we have to have to hurdle is the confidence of the people). Kahit nandyan na ‘yong bakuna, kung ayaw naman ng tao, dahil takot sila, talagang issue din ‘yon (Because even if the vaccine is there, and people will reject it because they are afraid, then it will still be an issue),” Gatchalian said.

The Senate Committee of the Whole is set to conduct on Monday, January 11, a inquiry on the Duterte administration’s COVID-19 vaccination program.Attachments area