Palace questions Senate's planned probe on COVID-19 vaccination of Duterte's security

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 04 2021 03:23 PM

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Malacañang questioned on Monday the Senate's probe on the Philippine inoculation plan against COVID-19, which may cover the use of unauthorized vaccines by President Rodrigo Duterte's close-in security team.

Co-equal branches of the government like the legislative and the executive should give “mutual respect", said Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque.

“Hindi ko po maintindihan kung bakit panghihimasukan ng Senado, a co-equal branch of government, ang seguridad ng ating Presidente gayung hindi naman pinanghihimasukan ng Presidente ang seguridad ng Senado,” Roque told reporters in an online briefing. 

(I don't understand why the Senate, a co-equal branch of government, is meddling with the security of our President, when the President does not meddle with the security of the Senate.)

Duterte thanks and praises members of the Presidential Security Group who took the vaccine, said Roque. 

“Haharap ba ho sila sa mga imbestigasyon? Siyempre po, wala po tayong tinatago, VP (Vice President) Leni Robredo,” he added. “Wala pong takot ang ating PSG kung papatawan sila ng parusa.” 

(Will they face investigations? Of course. We are not hiding anything, VP Leni Robredo. The PSG is not afraid should they be sanctioned.)

The Philippine drug regulator has not yet approved any COVID-19 vaccine for local use. 

The shots that the PSG took may have been smuggled, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said. 

Last year, the Senate agreed to convene as a Committee of the Whole to look into how the executive branch plans to spend the P72.5 billion budget for COVID-19 vaccines this year.

While several senators pushed to summon PSG officials in the hearing, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he is more inclined to focus on the Philippines' plan on how to distribute and store the COVID-19 vaccines.

"With their indulgence, I'd rather concentrate on the original intention of the hearing. Nevertheless, I will consult my colleagues on the matter," he told reporters in a text message on Monday.

The Senate investigation on COVID-19 vaccines is scheduled on January 11.

- with reports from Jamaine Punzalan and Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News