Hontiveros wants China-led probe on entry of unauthorized COVID-19 vaccines in PhilippinesBy DONA MAGSINO,GMA News
The Chinese government should lead an independent investigation on the alleged entry of unauthorized COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines, Senator Risa Hontiveros said Monday.
“China must explain. Beijing should lead their own inquiry and submit pertinent information to Philippine agencies. Responsibilidad nilang alamin kung paano nakalabas sa bansa nila at nakarating sa bansa natin ang mga ilegal na bakuna,” the opposition lawmaker said in a statement.
In December, President Rodrigo Duterte said some members of the Philippine military were already injectedwith a COVID-19 vaccine made by Chinese firm Sinopharm without approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines confirmed that soldiers who are part of the Presidential Security Group were the first ones who got vaccinated against COVID-19, "owing to the nature of their mission and function."
But a group claiming to be the sole distributor of Sinopharm's COVID-19 vaccine in the Philippines has denied involvement in the inoculation of the PSG members.
PSG commander Brigadier General Jesus Durante III said the vaccines used were donated upon PSG's request but he refused to disclose the source of the vaccine.
“Sa lakas ba naman ng seguridad at surveillance sa China, imposibleng hindi nila malalaman kung sino ang may pakana ng black market vaccines na ito," Hontiveros said.
She added that a Beijing-led investigation would promote transparency and boost public trust in China-made vaccines.
Manila’s Ambassador to Beijing Jose Santiago “Chito” Sta. Romana said two of China’s COVID-19 vaccine makers — Sinopharm and Sinovac — will seek emergency use authorization in the Philippines.
Shedding light into the covert vaccination of the PSG using unauthorized vaccines would restore the Filipinos' confidence in immunization efforts against the novel disease, which already infected more than 487,000 and claimed over 9,400 lives in the country, Hontiveros said.
“Ang mga hindi awtorisadong pagpapabakuna galing sa black market ay isa sa mga maaaring dahilan ng mababang tiwala ng publiko sa COVID-19 vaccine. It is important that only authorized, safe, and registered vaccines will be used, and we must communicate this loudly and clearly,” she said.
The Senate Committee of the Whole will conduct a hearing on the government's COVID-19 vaccination plan on Monday, but the PSG was not invited after Duterte instructed the soldiers to keep silent on the issue. —KBK, GMA News