FDA to push through with probe on Duterte security team's COVID-19 vaccination

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 06 2021 02:36 PM

FDA to push through with probe on Duterte security team's COVID-19 vaccination 1
President Rodrigo Duterte is welcomed by the Presidential Security Group (PSG) during the 122nd PSG anniversary at the PSG Compound on June 26, 2019. Robinson Niñal, Presidential Photo/File

MANILA— The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Wednesday it would go ahead with an investigation into the unauthorized COVID-19 vaccination of President Rodrigo Duterte's security detail. 

This, even after Duterte instructed the Presidential Security Group to "shut up" should lawmakers inquire about their vaccination, which prompted the military to drop its investigation into the PSG inoculation hours later.

Duterte's order to the PSG only applies to congressional hearings, said FDA Director General Eric Domingo.

"Ang FDA po mayroon namang set ng proseso kung paano po namin hina-handle at ini-investigate ang mga complaints at saka mga reports po na ganito," Domingo said in a public briefing.

"At itutuloy naman po namin iyan according to the process laid out by FDA," he added. 

(The FDA has its own set of processes on how to handle and investigate complaints and reports like this. And we will go ahead with that according to the process laid out by the FDA.)

The National Bureau of Investigation has a separate probe into the matter.

"As far sa the other agencies of the executive branch are concerned, that is at the discretion of the investigating agencies," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Tuesday.

“Pakitanong lang po sa NBI, pakitanong lang po sa FDA kung magtutuloy pa sila ng kanilang imbestigasyon,” he told reporters in an online briefing. 

(Please ask the NBI, FDA if they will continue their investigation.) 

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The FDA has not yet approved any COVID-19 vaccine for local use, making the drug's importation, distribution and sale in the country illegal for now. 

Duterte, who has commended his security detail for their "loyalty and courage" in having themselves inoculated, said they did it for "self-preservation."

"I am prepared to defend my soldiers. I will not allow them, for all of their good intention, to be brutalized in the hearing," Duterte said.

Roque, a lawyer, said the military detail broke no law.

"The president is saluting the PSG for what they did. They risked their lives to protect our president," Roque told a media briefing.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana last week called the PSG's move "justified" even as he said the vaccines they took as far back as September, without his knowledge, had been smuggled into the Philippines.

- With a report from Reuters