Drilon: Call PSG chief to Senate vaccine probe

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 31) — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon wants the head of the Presidential Security Group to attend the Senate's investigation on the unregistered vaccines that have entered the country.

"The PSG Commander must be called and must appear in the investigation of the Committee of the Whole to shed light on this issue... The most important 'who' and 'how' of the story remain a mystery. The PSG commander is deliberately withholding the basic questions of who and how from the public," Drilon said in a press release on Thursday.

The senator added all that were given to the public were "alibis, excuses and lies."

"Who else was involved? How did unregistered COVID-19 vaccines enter the country? Who imported it from China?" Drilon said.

In an interview with CNN Philippines on Tuesday, PSG Commander Jesus Durante III kept mum on the source of the vaccine.

"We identified the vaccine that we like to use for our personnel. There is actually a donor, but I could not disclose whoever he is," said Durante in an interview with News Night

Durante added the PSG did an independent research on what vaccine to secure. But he did not reveal the name of the vaccine they used to avoid influencing the government's procurement program.

Although the vaccination of some PSG members was not approved, Durante said they acted "in good faith."

To date, three agencies said they are looking into the use of the smuggled vaccines: The Food and Drug Administration, the Bureau of Customs, and the National Bureau of Investigation. 

FDA Director General Eric Domingo also said neither they nor the Department of Health were consulted on the vaccines. 

In an earlier briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the vaccines came from a donation, insisting it's not a big deal since the doses are mere "tokens." But Domingo said even donated vaccines need to secure clearance from the DOH and FDA, which was not what happened in this case.

Under the FDA Act, those who import, sell, or distribute any unregistered health product may face imprisonment or monetary fines. The law does not penalize the person who was injected with the unregistered vaccines, but charges await those who import, sell, distribute, and dispense the drugs.