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NBI presses PSG vaccine probe

UNLESS stopped, the National Bureau of Investigation will proceed with the investigation into the alleged unauthorized vaccination of President Duterte’s security detail with unregistered COVID-19 vaccine.

This developed even as President Duterte told the Presidential Security Group personnel who received anti-coronavirus shot Sinopharm to ignore congressional summons.

“Yes, tuloy ang NBI investigation dahil meron kaming order galing kay Secretary (Menardo) Guevarra na natanggap ng NBI… unless withdrawn,” NBI Deputy Director Ferdinand Lavin said, adding Duterte’s order was directed at a possible congressional hearing.

“Sa aking pakiwari, yung pagsabi ng mahal na Pangulo patungkol naman sa bill ng Kongreso,” Lavin, the concurrent NBI spokesperson, said.

Duterte on Monday, January 4, said he would order PSG members to either not attend any congressional hearing on the controversy or stay mum during such a hearing.

“Do not tinker with the PSG. Do not force my hand to meddle into this affair. Maybe I am not so keen allowing Durante (PSG chief Brigadier General Jesus Durante III) and the rest of the PSG to testify,” he said.

Asked if the PSG personnel involved in the unauthorized inoculation refused to cooperate with the NBI, Lavin said the bureau would still proceed with the probe using” independent evidence.”

“Kung hindi naman pumayag or makipag-cooperate ay patuloy naman ang imbestigasyon at we will build up the case on independent evidence, “ Lavin said.

He said that the NBI would start” reaching out” to the PSG through the Armed Forces of the Philippines either today, Tuesday, or in the next few days.

“Yesterday (Monday, January 4), upon receipt of the Department Order, our agents led by Atty. (Emeterio) Dongallo of the Special Action Unit already sent a communication to the Food and Drugs Administration requesting a certification on whether there had already been vaccines which has been registered or whether there are vaccines submitted for registration and on what stage already are these vaccines on the registration process,” Lavin said.

PSG chief Jesus Durante said that the PSG “vaccinated themselves” as early as September.

But there no COVID-19 vaccine has passed the Food and Drug Administration as of date.

Neither the Department of Health nor the FDA was consulted on the vaccination of Duterte’s security detail and some Cabinet members.

“It started actually September and the last batch October…All of the personnel inoculated so far are doing good. No side effects whatsoever,” Durante said.

He also said the President was not informed about the inoculations until after the PSG men were vaccinated.

“We didn’t ask permission. We just informed him about it after all the close-in personnel were vaccinated. He was surprised,” he added.

Customs officials suspect the vaccines passed through the airport because it requires cold storage.

Deep probe urged

A House leader called on the law enforcement agencies to dig deeper into the alleged selling of anti-coronavirus disease vaccines made from China to determine if there are government agencies and officials involved.

Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs, particularly wanted to know if there are cohorts from the Bureau of Customs (BOC).

Reports said there are China-made anti-COVID-19 vaccines being sold on the drug market and Barbers suspects that these entered the country illegally.

Barbers also said the smugglers of the vaccines, developed by a Chinese-state-owned pharmaceutical company, could also be the ones who “donated” the same drug to some 300 members of the Presidential Security Group who claimed to have inoculated themselves.

“The Department of Justice and its investigating arm, the National Bureau of Investigation, should focus its probe in identifying and prosecuting the smuggler and his BOC cohorts of the Sinopharm vaccines into the country,” he said. With Jester P. Manalastas

Publication Source :    People's Journal
Hector Lawas
Court reporter for more than 20 years