Robredo told: 'PSG would die for the president's safety'

 By Rjay Zuriaga Castor


MANILA, Philippines– "The message is clear: they would die for the president's safety and to give him protection... We aren't hiding anything, VP Leni Robredo," said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque addressing the vice president who earlier called for transparency in probes on the issue, casting fear that it would only hurt efforts for the public to trust the supposed COVID-19 vaccines.

In a Palace press briefing on Monday, January 4, Roque reiterated that the inoculation of PSG members shows respect and loyalty to their mission of protecting the president.

Firm on their stance, MalacaƱang thinks that the smuggled coronavirus vaccines taken by members of President Rodrigo Duterte's security detail ahead of other listed beneficiaries are a closed issue that Filipinos should simply move on from.

The vaccines that were taken, however, has not yet been given regulatory approval by the country's  Food and Drug Administration before they can be rolled out, and under the government’s prioritization scheme of vaccine recipients, healthcare workers will be the first to get COVID-19 vaccines.

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.

But in the same breath that he defended them, Roque that the presidential security personnel welcomes probe by government agencies.

"Well, I think the message of the PSG is that they are ready to die for the security of the president. Their mission is to protect the President of the Republic of the Philippines and his immediate family. So they made the decision, even if it was without authorization, to get vaccinated. In other words, because they were ready to die for him, they decided to get inoculated in order to lessen the chances of the president transmitting the virus," Roque said in Filipino.

Roque once again, leaned on the same familiar narrative it has brought up in instances of controversy: that legitimate concerns being raised against the administration's shortcomings are supposedly just a trumped-up narrative being exploited by the administration's political opposition.

"Let us stop this discussion because our conversations at this moment should now be focused on the vaccines, when they're coming, and how we'll be able to spread it among our countrymen. Let's stop the politics. We already know that this issue that is being used by the enemies of the government is not going to end. The president pays tribute to the PSG, and they risked their lives for him," he said.

"Our PSG are not scared of any punishment they might receive. They're willing to die for the president, why would they care about a penalty?" he added, urging Filipinos, many of whom were also bypassed in the priority for vaccination, to instead be thankful for the "sacrifice" of the PSG.

Health workers and advocates earlier slammed the COVID-19, as healthcare collectives have said that "24 million health workers and patients were bypassed, and especially leapfrogged by those not even listed yet were able to receive it illegally."

“Even if these vaccines were somehow donated to these government officials, ethics and FDA policies should have prevented this affront to our institutional integrity,” the Coalition for People’s Right to Health said, condemning the “blatant” disregard of existing laws and processes.

The FDA and the Department of Health cautioned the public against the purchase and use of unregistered vaccines.

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.

RELATED STORY: Philippine Star


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