MALACAÑANG is confident that the Presidential Security Group (PSG) personnel will be ready to face the consequences of receiving a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine which has yet to get approval from local regulators.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that if close-in security personnel are willing to die to protect President Rodrigo Duterte, they are also willing to face possible consequences and even penalties for their actions.
“Kung sila’y handa mamatay para sa Presidente, handa sila kung ano ipapataw na parusa,” he said in a virtual presser on Monday.
Roque, a lawyer, said he does not see anything wrong with the PSG’s decision to get inoculated with the vaccine as it was necessary to ensure the President’s health and safety.
“Yes, I don’t think it was a mistake to protect the President. If there’s whatever accountabilities issue, sasagutin po ‘yan ng PSG. Gaya ng sinabi ko, e kung kamatayan nga tatanggapin nila ano naman yang mga ibang parusa na puwede ipataw sa kanila. Let’s leave it at that. Kung may kaso,let the cases be filed and let them proceed,” he added.
He said Duterte would even want to honor PSG personnel who agreed to be given vaccine shots to prevent him from getting infected with the virus.
“Nagbibigay pugay po ang Presidente sa ginawa ng PSG. Sinugal po nila ang kanilang buhay para bigyan ng proteksyon at ating Presidente,” he said.
Roque said everyone, besides Duterte’s critics, would agree that the President should be protected from all forms of threat including COVID-19.
“Iisa lang naman po ang Presidente ng Pilipinas. Siguro naman walang Pilipino, well, siyempre may mga kalaban ang Presidente who are wishing otherwise, pero tingin ko naman po lahat ng natatakot sa Panginoon, hindi naman nagnanais na magkasakit ang ating Presidente,” he said.
Stop politicking Roque appealed to members of the opposition, including Vice President Leni Robredo, to stop playing politics and using the issue to show that the Duterte administration is seemingly covering up misdeeds.
“Haharap pa po sila sa mga imbestigasyon. Siyempre po, wala po tayong tinatago VP Leni Robredo. Kaya nga po nagkakaroon po ng mga imbestigasyon ngayon ang [National Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice, and Food and Drug Administration],” he said.
He also sought for mutual respect from the Senate which will convene as a committee of the whole to open its own investigation and summon PSG Commander, Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante III, to explain how the vaccine doses were procured.
“Hindi ko po maintindihan kung bakit panghihimasukan ng Senado, ang co-equal branch of government, angseguridad ng ating Presidente e gayung hindi naman pinaghihimasukan ng Presidente ang seguridad ng Senado. Siguro po,” he said.
Roque also reiterated that no public funds were spent in the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines for PSG personnel. Last week, he said they were given to them as a “token”, but could not identify where the vaccines came from.
“Kung gusto po nila sabihin, sasabihin nila. Pero ng importante po, pinrotektahan ang Presidente,” he said.
He also insisted that the PSG’s actions did not violate Republic Act 9711 or the FDA Act of 2009 since there was no sale and distribution of vaccines that took place.
Several agencies including the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Bureau of Customs (BOC), NBI, and FDA earlier announced that they will conduct separate probes into the inoculation of PSG personnel with a COVID-19 vaccine not yet authorized by the FDA.
The PSG’s vaccination drew flak for allegedly violating the law and undermining more vulnerable sectors, particularly healthcare workers. Philippine News Agency