The Philippine military on Tuesday called off an investigation into the use of an unauthorized COVID-19 vaccine on soldiers guarding President Rodrigo Duterte, who defended his security team from criticism.
“This comes in the light of the recent pronouncement of … President Rodrigo Duterte,” who is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Major General Edgard Arevalo said.
Arevalo said the military was supposed to hold a fact-finding investigation into the vaccination of some members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) on Tuesday.
In his Monday night public address, Duterte called on Congress to stop investigations into the inoculation of the PSG members last month, using the COVID-19 vaccine by Chinese company Sinopharm.
“Whatever be your objection, whatever be your criticism, to me, it’s a matter of preservation,” he said. “In criminal law, that is the right to self-defense. The enemy is COVID … They have to mix (with other people) for their job, they have to surround me.”
“How can they perform that duty when they are in danger of getting COVID?,” he added. “I can also get infected.”
Last month, the Presidential Security Group confirmed that some close-in security officers for the president were given the COVID-19 vaccine. But no details on how the vaccine was purchased, how many soldiers received the shots and who administered the vaccine were given.
No vaccine has so far been given emergency use authorization in the Philippines, according to the the country’s Bureau of Food and Drugs. But the authorization for Pfizer’s vaccine might be issued within the month, it added.