‘PSG got vaccinated first’: Doubts after Duterte claimed vulnerable sector first to receive COVID-19 jab

January 14, 2021 - 7:09 PM
Duterte in Jan 13 Speech
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte skims through a document as he presides over a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members prior to his talk to the people at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on January 13, 2021. (Presidential Photo/Richard Madelo)

Some Filipinos countered President Rodrigo Duterte‘s remarks that the indigent population will be the first ones to receive the COVID-19 vaccine despite the unauthorized vaccination of his close-in security personnel months before.

Duterte said that frontliners and those in the vulnerable sector would be the first ones to receive a vaccine, in accordance with the Department of Health’s priority list released in November.

The foremost groups in the priority list for the government’s vaccination drive are frontline medical workers, indigent senior citizens, remaining senior citizens, the remaining indigent population and the uniformed personnel.

Next ones on the list are teachers and school workers, all national and local government workers, essential workers (agriculture, food, transportation and tourism industry), sociodemographic groups at higher risk than senior citizens and the indigents (persons deprived of liberty, persons with disabilities, Filipinos in high-density areas), overseas Filipino workers, other remaining workforce and students.

First or last?

Duterte added that he, along with other government officials, would now be willing to go last in receiving the vaccine.

“Fifth priority is the uniformed personnel, PNP. Kasama kayo sa mga sundalo natin, kasama kayo sa mga priority. Pero mauna talaga ‘yung mga pobre, ‘yung wala talaga, tapos kayo,” Duterte said in his speech aired Wednesday night.

“Halos… Pagdating ng ano, kung milyon ‘yan, magsabay-sabay na kayo lahat, at saka huli na kami. Kung may maiwan, para sa amin: Kay Bong (Sen. Bong Go), kay Secretary Lorenzana (Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana)… Kung may maiwan, eh ‘di para sa atin. Unahin natin sila,” he added.

In July last year, Duterte said that he wanted poor Filipinos and hospitalized patients to be inoculated first once a vaccine becomes available.

Last month, the Palace said that the president is willing to be the first to receive the COVID-19 jab once it is approve for domestic use to encourage Filipinos to get vaccinated as well.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said that Duterte’s remark on being the last to receive the COVID-19 vaccine is not yet final.

“Hindi pa po iyan sigurado ‘no. Sinabi po niya iyon kagabi dahil ang mensahe niya dapat mauna talaga ang mga dukha, ang mga mahirap na mabigyan ng proteksiyon,” he said in his Thursday press briefing.

“Pero kung talagang kinakailangan na mauna ang Presidente para magkaroon ng kumpiyansa ang taumbayan, hindi ko naman po sinasabing imposibleng mangyari pa rin iyon dahil sinabi nga niya noon na mauuna siyang magpabakuna,” Roque added.

‘Nauna na kayo’ 

Filipinos then reminded Duterte that the members of the Presidential Security Group were the first to receive vaccines in the country.

“Nauna na po kayo. Baka nakakalimutan mo,” a Twitter user said in response to his comments in the speech.

“Mahuli kayo? Eh, nauna na nga ‘yung PSG na within c*mshot range mo. What makes you think na maniniwala kami diyan?” a Reddit user commented.

“Sus, PSG nga naturukan, kayo pa kaya ni Bong Go,” another Reddit user said in response to Duterte’s remarks.

Members of the PSG, tasked to provide close-in security and escort to the chief executive, were previously inoculated with China’s Sinopharm vaccine as early as September 2020.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año also confirmed that a male Cabinet member received a jab that Duterte mentioned could’ve been from Sinopharm.

The move outraged online Filipinos since it disregarded the supposed priority list of those who will be vaccinated but some officials justified the inoculation and said it was done to “protect the president” who is considered a high-risk with his age.

READ: From VIP testing to VIP vaccination, Filipinos deplore ‘unfair’ vaccination of soldiers, Cabinet exec

Only COVID-19 vaccines that were granted an emergency use authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration can be used within the duration of the declared public health emergency due to COVID-19, or upon issuance of full market authorization/Certificate of Product Registration.

Sinopharm has a reported efficacy rate of 79%.

It has not yet decided whether it will conduct clinical trials in the Philippines or apply for EUA as of January 8, according to the Department of Science and Technology.