Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the COVID-19 vaccines used by members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) are indeed smuggled as it was unauthorized, but the intention behind the act is “justified” as it is meant to protect President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Yes, it’s smuggled. Kasi hindi authorized eh na pumasok dito (it's importation was not authorized). Only the government can authorize that through the FDA (Food and Drug Administration),” Lorenzana said in an interview with ABS-CBN on the sidelines of the Rizal Day rites at Luneta on Wednesday, December 30.
PSG chief Brigadier General Durante had earlier defended the vaccination of some PSG members, saying it was necessary to ensure the security of the President.
Responding to questions on the vaccine smuggling issue, Lorenzana said: “Explain lang talaga ng PSG kung bakit nila ginawa 'yun. Justified naman eh. Anyway 'yung vaccine naman ay hindi fake, totoo naman (The PSG really just has to explain why they did it. It's justified anyway. Anyway, the vaccine is not fake, it's genuine)."
But he also said that he didn’t know how the smuggling issue “will be resolved” as the PSG violated FDA rules.
Lorenzana said during the interview that he has no information on the source of the vaccines, which Duterte had earlier identified as China’s SinoPharm vaccine.
The defense chief said that he had only heard rumors that PSG members got vaccinated but he didn’t ask about it, and Durante didn’t volunteer the information to him either.
In an interview on ANC on Wednesday, Durante defended the unauthorized vaccination and said he takes full responsibility for it.
Durante said only a handful of the President's close-in security got the vaccine, and that the vaccinations took place in September and October. He said he informed the President only after the vaccines were administered in October.
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) said on Tuesday, December 29, that it was not informed of the importation of the COVID-19 vaccines given to military personnel and top officials of the government. The agency said if the vaccines are proven smuggled, officials involved could also face administrative and civil cases. – Rappler.com