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45 PSG members test positive for COVID-19

At least 45 members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) have tested positive for COVID-19, PSG Commander Jesus Durante III said Wednesday.

Durante made the announcement in an interview over state-run PTV after Senator Bong Go—a former longtime aide of President Rodrigo Duterte—revealed that the President’s Talk to the People tonight was postponed for the second time this week due to PSG members testing positive for COVID-19.

“At the least, our PSG personnel who got infected [with COVID-19] are not directly or closely detailed with the President and are all asymptomatic without experiencing any adverse symptoms. Hence, rest assured that the President is safe and in good health,” Durante said.

Durante then assured the public that the incident has not hampered PSG from performing its functions.

“PSG—through its Task Force COVID-19 and our medical staff continue to efficiently and effectively manage our situation ensuring that those who are tested positive complete their quarantine protocols and are properly processed. All health and safety protocols are strictly enforced and implemented to all PSG personnel and their dependents,” Durante pointed out.

“We have established protocols to contain the spread of the virus and we will continue to enforce it so that the President is kept safe and secured from all forms of threats at all times,” he added.

Durante said in the same statement that the PSG provides security for VIPs and  guards the PSG compound, the residence and the whole Malacañang Complex 24/7 where civilian residents are also situated, making their exposure to the virus “inevitable.”

Members of the PSG group have been vaccinated with Chinese COVID-19 vaccine Sinopharm in September and October 2020 even if Sinopharm has not been registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at that time. 

Back then, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque justified PSG's action as a way to protect the President from COVID-19.

The FDA has ultimately approved  compassionate use of 10,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccine in February this year for the use of PSG members.

A compassionate use permit issued by the FDA, however, only allows for legal administration of the vaccine and is not an endorsement of safety and efficacy from FDA.—LDF, GMA News