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Lorenzana says COVID-19 vaccines used on PSG personnel were smuggled

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Wednesday said the COVID-19 vaccines administered to some members of the Presidential Security Group were smuggled because no authorization was given by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

At the sidelines of the wreath laying ceremony at Rizal Park in Manila on Rizal Day, Lorenzana said the PSG needs to make an explanation on the inoculation of some personnel even it was for protecting President Rodrigo Duterte. 

'Yes, smuggled kasi hindi authorized. Only the government can authorize diyan," Lorenzana told reporters, according to GMA News reporter Bam Alegre.

"Kailangan ipaliwanag ng PSG 'cause they violated FDA rules... Explain ng PSG bakit ginawa 'yun," he added. 

Lorenzana, however, said it was not a breach of security as the intention of the PSG was good. 

The Defense secretary said he only knew about the vaccination after Duterte's close-in security were already inoculated. He said he is not privy where the COVID-19 vaccine was sourced. 

On Tuesday, PSG commander Brigadier General Jesus Durante III said his unit acquired the COVID-19 vaccines for free, but he did not mention the source. 

Durante said the PSG did its own research as regards which vaccine to acquire for the close-in security personnel of the President. 

The Defense chief underscored that the FDA policies must be strictly followed in this kind of instances, noting that vaccines, medicines and even food entering the country must be first ensured to be safe for consumption. 

He also said the FDA should hasten its process of approving COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines. 

"Ang dapat gawin ng FDA, madaliin pag-approve para makapag-import na legitimate importers and government kasi nagva-vaccine na sa ibang lugar. FDA should fast-track," Lorenzana said. 

The FDA has yet to approve any COVID-19 vaccine in the country. It noted that donated vaccines still require clearances, noting that the PSG's procurement of vaccines was a breach of the regulatory process.

FDA Director General Eric Domingo emphasized on Wednesday that as far as they are concerned, registration is needed whether the drug or the vaccine is procured or donated. —KG, GMA News