President Rodrigo Duterte warned Congress on Monday against “tinkering” with the supposed self-inoculation of members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) using unregistered COVID-19 vaccines.
“To me, it’s a matter of self-preservation. That’s just it. Whatever be your objection, whatever be your criticisms, for it’s a matter of preservation,” Duterte said, speaking partly in Filipino, in his weekly briefing on the pandemic.
The President issued the statement after Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the chief of the PSG, Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante III, should be summoned to a Senate inquiry on the government’s vaccination plan.
“I would like to call on Congress — I’m not pleading —what I only want is, in plain words: Do not tinker with the PSG. I am telling you as President: It’s a matter of self-preservation,” Duterte said.
“That’s all for me. I will not elaborate on it. But do not force my hand to meddle into this because maybe I will not… I am not so keen about allowing Durante and the rest of PSG to testify,” he added.
“They did this, as I understand, for the sake of their lives. So if they will be called to testify in Congress, as a lawyer, I will just tell them — because they are now being accused with the accompanying statement of prosecution — if that’s the case, I will ask the PSG to just shut up. Do not answer. Invoke the right against self-incrimination.”
Duterte also warned lawmakers against citing PSG personnel in contempt for ignoring the inquiry.
“I do not think that it would be good for you and for me. It would not be healthy for everybody,’ he said.