Some soldiers have received COVID-19 vaccines, Malacañang said Monday even as the country has yet to authorize any drug for distribution against the virus.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed reports that some soldiers were already inoculated with China's Sinopharm vaccine, saying there is no law that prohibits one from being jabbed with unregistered drugs.
"Huwag niyo naman po ipagkait sa ating mga sundalo kung nagkaroon sila ng proteksyon. Tanggapin na lang po natin na importante yung ating kasundaluhan yung mga nagbabantay sa ating seguridad ay ligtas na sa COVID nang magampanan nila ang kanilang trabaho," Roque said in a Palace press briefing.
"Hindi po ipinagbabawal ng batas natin ang magpaturok ng hindi rehistrado. Ang bawal po yung distribusyon at pagbebenta so ito naman po ay itinurok sa mga sundalo na pumayag," he added.
MORE ON COVID-19 VACCINES:
Members of the Presidential Security Group -- President Rodrigo Duterte's close-in security detail -- were the "first ones" from the Armed Forces of the Philippines to be immunized against COVID-19, military spokesman Major General Edgard Arevalo said.
"Because the safety of the President equates to national well-being, that security posture should necessarily include protecting the Commander-in-Chief from contracting the deadly virus from those he is constantly exposed to like the members of his security detail," Arevalo said in a statement Monday.
Both Roque and Arevalo however denied knowledge as to how the vaccines were obtained.
The country's Food and Drug Administration has yet to authorize any COVID-19 vaccine for sale and distribution in the Philippines. FDA Director-General Eric Domingo said he was unaware of what vaccine was used by soldiers.
Based on the government's COVID-19 immunization plan, health workers are first in line to get vaccinated against the virus once the FDA authorizes the use of a certain drug.
The Philippines plans to start its mass immunization program against COVID-19 by late March in a "best-case scenario."