Apparently, members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) already received doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, even before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved its use in the Philippines. According to Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson Maj. Gen. Edgar Arevalo, the PSG which is tasked with the President’s security—have already been inoculated against COVID-19.
The news comes after the FDA’s announcement that it will go after those who have been illegally distributing the touted vaccines. In an interview, FDA director general Eric Domingo stated that the FDA will be cracking down on unlicensed and unapproved COVID-19 vaccine use, which has reportedly been making its rounds underground.
Apparently, getting vaccinated isn’t illegal
The Palace also chimed in with its official stand on the matter—with full support for the AFP, of course. In an online briefing, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that nothing was illegal about the soldiers’ vaccination.
“Unang una po, hindi po ipinagbabawal ng batas natin ang magpaturok nang hindi rehistrado. Ang bawal po ’yung distribution at pagbebenta. So ito naman po ay tinurok sa mga sundalo na pumayag,” he said.
(First of all, it is not against the law to be inoculated with a vaccine that is yet to be registered. What’s illegal is the distribution and the sale. This was given to soldiers with their consent.)
When the provenance of the vaccines was put into question, Roque’s response left much to be desired.
“Ang pagkakaalam ko, wala pong bayad yan,” said Roque. “Dahil hindi po ’yan binayaran, it must have been donated. Hindi ko po alam kung sino po ang nag-donate.”
(From what I know, it’s free. Since it’s free, it must have been donated. I don’t know who donated these.)
So what if we want to get vaccinated ahead of time?
Apparently, it’s completely fine if we were to bring limited quantities of the vaccine to the country for personal use. In a press briefing, spokesperson Roque said that if individuals were to bring in vaccines from abroad, it isn’t illegal as long as it’s not for sale.
“Kung makakalusot po iyan ’no. It has to be very small quantities, I suppose ’no. Kasi kung commercial quantity iyan, that will have to require a license,” Roque said.
(If that will pass through. It has to be very small quantities, I suppose. Because if it is commercial quantity, that will have to require a license.)
“Ang importante po ay mayroong EUA [emergency use authorization] iyan sa Tsina; ang importante ay hindi po iyan officially inangkat. Ang importante po ay hindi po iyan binenta, hindi po iyan dinistribute; mayroong nagbigay, mayroong tumanggap, tinurukan, full stop,” Roque added.
(What’s important is that it has an EUA from China and it was not officially imported. What’s important is that it was not sold, not distributed; there’s someone who gave it, someone who received it then vaccinated, full stop.)
Well, there we have it.