Columnist Ramon Tulfo cannot be compelled to cooperate with an inquiry into the reported use of unregistered coronavirus vaccines since he is no longer connected with the government, according to a Palace official.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque explained that Tulfo is considered a private citizen after his appointment as President Duterte’s special envoy for public diplomacy to China has ended.
“As far as Mon Tulfo is concerned, he clarified, he is no longer special envoy to China. He is a private citizen so he can do as he pleases,” Roque said during a televised press briefing Thursday, Feb. 25.
“The President is not in position to compel him to do anything, the President does not have subpoena powers,” he added.
The Food and Drug Administration has announced it would look into the use of unregistered COVID-19 vaccines by some groups.
Tulfo earlier admitted he received the Sinopharm vaccine last year to test the product since he was applying to be a local distributor. He said some government officials and some members of the Presidential Security Group also took the same vaccine.
The Sinopharm vaccines have not yet secured any emergency use approval from the country’s drug regulators.
On whether the Palace would compel Tulfo and the PSG to cooperate with the FDA probe, Roque insisted: “The President is a President, not a policeman, not an NBI agent. We leave that to the police and to the NBI.”
And since his government stint has ended, Roque pointed out that Tulfo is “no longer covered by the anti-graft laws of the country.”