Mayor Rex to public: ‘Move on’ from PSG vaccination row

Published January 6, 2021, 11:51 AM

by Minka Klaudia Tiangco

Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian said it is time for the public to move on from the controversy hounding the Presidential Security Group (PSG) after they were inoculated with a vaccine that has yet to be approved by health authorities. 

Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian (Photo from Mayor Rex Gatchalian Facebook)

“I do understand the rationale of making sure that the President is protected from both physical harm or, in this case, medical harm… I do understand that there are certain risks that should be taken, calculated risks, managed risks in order to protect the most crucial individual in the country,” he said in an interview with ANC on Tuesday (January 5). 

“Let’s start moving on because we’ve had this discourse for quite some time. No matter where we look at this issue, there is always a left side and a right side, like on my case, I would rather look at this as a calculated, managed risk to protect the most important individual in the country. Others would look at it as a haphazard move that sends the wrong message to everybody. But for me, we’ve pretty much discussed all that there is to discuss,” he added. 

The Valenzuela mayor agreed that the vaccination activity “could have been done better” but he said the members of the PSG took the risk because of valid reasons. 

Gatchalian also said the vaccine used, developed by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinopharm, may have already been approved by health authorities in other countries. 

“I dont think the PSG people would just haphazardly inject themselves, given that they are also people with families and they are thinking about their general wellbeing,” he said. “Hindi naman eto ‘yung parang out of luho, hindi naman eto ‘yung (This was not done out of luxury, this was not done) just because we want to, there were pressing reasons on why they had to do it.” 

“Let’s put a period to that and look forward to vaccinating everybody, hopefully by July, so everybody can get back to the normal life,” he added.

The public should instead focus on discussing “more pressing matters,” such as the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines for the country, Gatchalian said.

The PSG drew flak after its chief Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante admitted that more than 20 members tasked to protect the President had already been vaccinated.  Durante said the concerned PSG members inoculated themselves at the PSG compound.  He did not name the vaccine used.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the vaccines were likely smuggled in the country.  

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the vaccines were donated.

The Department of Justice and Food and Drug Administration are investigating the unauthorized use of the vaccine. The Armed Forces of the Philippines dropped its probe after the President prohibited the PSG from baring details on how they acquired the vaccine.