As gov’t execs take prohibited vaccines, Duterte asserts stance vs illegal drugs

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
As govât execs take prohibited vaccines, Duterte asserts stance vs illegal drugs
President Rodrigo Duterte wears a face mask during a meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases at Malacañang on April 13.
The STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Though Malacañang sees nothing wrong with Cabinet members and presidential security personnel taking a vaccine prohibited by the country's own health department and ahead of its supposed time, it also maintains its hardline stance against illegal drugs in the face of a possible probe by international bodies. 

At a public address late Monday night, the tough-talking President Rodrigo Duterte fumed at the International Criminal Court anew for its reports on his administration's campaign against illegal narcotics, slamming the court for "interfering" in local affairs and claiming incorrectly that it was composed of "whites."

"Now these drug lords — along with kidnappers, drug pushers — bring them [to a place] with not too many people to avoid scandal. Pour gasoline on them and light it. That’s what those people deserve,” he said, addressing state forces. 

“I said do not destroy my country. And if you destroy the youth of my land, you are destroying my country. So that I will kill you. That's the truth."

READ: Roque justifies soldiers getting jabs of unauthorized COVID-19 vaccine

But this comes amid the disclosure from a number of government figures, including Duterte himself, that Cabinet officials and members of the Presidential Security Group were inoculated with vaccines from the Chinese government-run Sinopharm. The Palace earlier said that medical frontliners would be given first priority for vaccination, while uniformed personnel including the police and military were fifth.

Healthcare collectives have slammed the early "VIP vaccinations," saying they bypass the regulatory process where healthcare workers should have gone first. The Food and Drug Administration, which has conducted raids on the illegal and premature usage of vaccines, said Tuesday that it was not consulted by the administration regarding the vaccines. 

"If it is indeed true that soldiers and PSG staff were vaccinated, then 24 million health workers and patients were bypassed, and especially leapfrogged by those not even listed yet were able to receive it illegally," the Coalition for People’s Right to Health said.

The Palace asserts that the vaccination was done to protect the president, saying there was nothing wrong with it. When asked about the illegal vaccinations at a press briefing later Tuesday, Palace spokesperson Harry Roque said: "That issue is over ... The health of the president is a matter of national security ... Nothing was spent on the people's coffers from here."

"I don't know how that [vaccine] got through," he also said. — with a report from Gaea Katreena Cabico






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