Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana sees nothing wrong with Armed Forces chief General Felimon Santos' request to the Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines to procure medicines from China which supposedly helped him to recover from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
But Lorenzana added that such request should have been coursed through the Department of Foreign Affairs.
"I see nothing wrong with General Santos’ writing a letter to the Chinese Ambassador for assistance to procure Carrimycin tablets, a cure for COVID, available only in China, for his friends who are infected with COVID19," Lorenzana said in a statement on Tuesday.
"He had not violated any regulations nor imperiled the security of the country. Let us put the matter to rest," Lorenzana said.
Lorenzana also pointed out that Santos' letter had already been withdrawn after the military chief learned that the Food and Drug Administration has not approved the use of the said medicine in the Philippines.
The Defense chief also said Santos' case, being a COVID-19 survivor, should be considered. "General Santos was infected with COVID and, although asymptomatic, went through the fear and anguish of being infected with a deadly virus."
Coursed through DFA
Still, Lorenzana said the letter should have been coursed through the DFA.
"Hindi naman siguro improper 'yung ginawa niya. Wala lang sa lugar. Dahil dapat 'yung mga ganoong sulat ay idadaan muna sa Department of Foreign Affairs," Lorenzana said at a Laging Handa press briefing.
A letter of Santos addressed to Huang Xilian, the ambassador of People's Republic of China to the Philippines, asking for assistance in the purchase of five boxes of carrimycin tablets in China, circulated online.
In the letter, Santos said he wants to give the medicine to some of his friends who got infected with COVID-19.
The AFP underscored that it does not see any conflict of interest with Santos' move. — RSJ, GMA News