Sen. Sotto laments uproar vs early vaccination of PSG

Published January 9, 2021, 10:01 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Saturday lamented the uproar against the early vaccination of President Duterte’s security personnel.

Sen. Vicente Sotto III (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

In an interview over radio DWIZ, Sotto said that to him, the early vaccination of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) against the novel coronavirus is a “non-issue” and should not divert the attention of the Senate from its original intention of looking into the government’s COVID-19 immunization program.

In the same interview, he also said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should also go after the sale and distribution of other unregistered drugs and not only the COVID-19 vaccines administered to government personnel.

“Sa Lunes nga, tatanungin ko sila kung gusto nila, bigyan ninyo ako ng listahan ng drugs na hindi ninyo approved. Napaka-haba, ang dami…Binibili over the counter, bakit hindi nila tinutugis yun? Ngayon may napabalita na may nag-injection, tutugisin, bakit? Bakit hot na hot kayo na gusto ninyo sa inyo lahat dumaan lahat yan? (On Monday, I will ask them to give a list of drugs that they have not approved yet. It will be a long list, there will be too many. Those are being sold over the counter, but why are we not going after those? Now we heard about people who had themselves injected with COVID-19 vaccines and we are cracking them down, why? Why are you so eager to have them go through you first?),” the Senate chief said.

“Ngayon may ilang sundalo na minagandang loob ng kung sino, yun ang pag iinitan nila (Now some soldiers were helped by someone, and people are now picking on them),” he said.

While he cannot prevent his colleagues from raising the issue during the January 11 hearing of the Senate Committee of the Whole, he said he believes that majority of the senators agreed that the “main concern” is the government’s roadmap to end the pandemic.

He maintained that the vaccines were given to the military and other officials at no cost to the government or the Filipinos and insisted that they were just donated.

“Huwag nating haluan ng problema ng FDA or problema ng DOH at saka problema ng bakit may mga nag-iimport, gustong gumaling sila agad kaya sila nagmamadali (Let’s not drag the problem of the FDA or the Department of Health and the issue on those who imported and got unregistered medicines because they wanted to protect themselves first),” Sotto said.  

President Duterte earlier warned lawmakers of a “little crisis” if they compelled the PSG members to disclose details about their early vaccination.

The Food and Drug Administration Law or Republic Act No. 3720, as amended by the Republic Act No. 9711, prohibits the “manufacture, importation, exportation, sale, offering for sale, distribution, transfer, non-consumer use, promotion, advertising, or sponsorship of any health product that is adulterated, unregistered or misbranded.”