For Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Presidential Security Group (PSG) Commander Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante III must explain to the Senate how the President’s security detail got immunized with a smuggled and unapproved China-developed vaccine against coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“In my view, the PSG Commander must be called and must appear in the investigation of the Committee of the Whole to shed light on this issue,” Drilon told the reporters on Thursday.
The senator refers to the hearing to be held in January to discuss the national government immunization program against COVID-19.
It can be recalled that Durante said he is taking “full responsibility” for the vaccination of ‘some’ PSG military officers, which he claimed they had requested from a donor he refused to name.
Drilon earlier stressed that Durante is “deliberately withholding the basic questions of who and how from the public.”
“The most important ‘who’ and ‘how’ of the story remains a mystery,” he noted, adding that military officers kept on giving the public “alibis, excuses and lies.”
Drilon said Durante must face the Senate inquiry and answer the following questions: “Who else was involved? How did unregistered COVID-19 vaccines enter the country? Who imported it from China?”
He also pointed out how the military officers tried to mislead the public in order to “protect” who handled the “illegal shipment” of the unauthorized Sinopharma vaccines.
No less than the President announced that some soldiers already received the said vaccines yet military leaders have stayed mum regarding this.
Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana was the first to confirm that Mr. Duterte gave the green light to inoculate PSG members.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, however, refuted this and claimed that Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) commanders must have authorized it, which was later disproved by AFP spokesperson Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo.
Drilon said he supports the initiation of Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra to investigate the entry of the unapproved vaccines used for the PSG.
Guevarra has instructed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct a probe on this as to also ascertain which laws were breached by its importation.
“I support the order of Justice Sec. Guevarra for the NBI to look into unauthorized inoculations against COVID-19 using unregistered vaccines. Laws appear to have been violated. The DoJ and the NBI are mandated by law to investigate,” said Drilon.
“No one is above the law. The Rule of Law must be the rule, rather than an exception,” he stressed.
But Roque, emphasizing that he is a lawyer by profession, said this could not be a case of anti-graft law violation as it was not bought by the government, thus no public funds were used.
The vaccines—calling them “tokens of little worth”—were given to PSG as donations, while insisting that the donor was unknown to him and why the donation was made.
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