Dela Rosa thanks Duterte's security for being 'guinea pigs' in COVID vaccination

 By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

PHOTO: ABS-CBN News

Senator Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa praises members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) when they treated themselves as "guinea pigs" as they get inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine not yet authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

In an interview with DZMM TeleRadyo on Saturday, Dela Rosa said that the public even owes the members PSG a sense of gratitude and they deserve credit for risking their lives in trying out a vaccine that has not yet proven its safety and efficacy to regulatory bodies.

"Hindi pa nga na-establish kung talagang epektibo iyang bakuna na iyan dahil hindi pa approved sa FDA (Food and Drug Administration) pero sila ay nagpabakuna na eh 'di nagpapasalamat tayo sa kanila at ginawa nila ang sarili nilang guinea pigs diyan sa eksperimento na iyan," Dela Rosa said.

"Kung maganda ang resulta eh 'di thank you, pero kung pangit, kawawa naman sila at sinugal nila ang buhay nila para diyan sa bakuna na iyan," he added.

Dela Rosa, who was once a COVID-19 positive, noted that at the end of the day, there is no "standard" on the personal decision of people to get vaccinated, especially when lives are at stake. But he noted that the PSG will not allow themselves not to do anything to protect the life of President Rodrigo Duterte as the top leader of the country.

"Hindi matatanggap ng PSG iyan hanggang mamatay sila, hindi nila matatanggap sa konsensya nila na nagka-COVID at namatay ang Presidente dahil sa kanila...intindihin natin sila," the senator added.

Earlier reports have claimed that troops had first to be vaccinated against COVID-19, as "primarily tasked to protect and secure the highest official of the land."

In a statement, AFP spokesperson Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said the PSG, "primarily tasked to protect and secure the highest official of the land," already got vaccinated. He did not disclose what vaccines were provided and how they were administered.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines also revealed that President Duterte as "the chain of command of the armed forces," has authorized decision to vaccinate some military men.

It was Duterte who bared in a Cabinet meeting last December 14,  that a number of military men already received the Chinese vaccine Sinopharm, which has not yet been given regulatory approval by the country's FDA.

Uniformed personnel are supposed to be fifth in line among other groups prioritized for vaccination, following health workers, senior citizens, indigent senior citizens, and the rest of the indigent population.

MalacaƱang earlier justified the move to administer unregistered COVID-19 vaccines to President Rodrigo Duterte's security detail, adding that there should not be much issue for the donations of little value, noting that the donated vaccines were "tokens" – an exemption provided under Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana then admitted that these were "smuggled" but the move was "justified" since the military only did it to effectively carry out their duties.

FDA Director General Eric Domingo previously reiterated the agency's warning against the use of unauthorized vaccines, saying their safety, quality, and efficacy are not guaranteed.

The FDA and Bureau of Customs are conducting separate probes into the PSG vaccination. The National Bureau of Investigation's Special Action Unit has also been assigned to look into the use of unregistered COVID-19 vaccines in the country, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra bared Saturday.


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