Much ado about nothing

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte doused ice-cold water on the bickering of some senators wanting to ride on the issue of the Sinovac vaccination of members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG). In an address to the nation on Monday night (January 4, 2021), President Duterte issued a directive to Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante, commander of the PSG, to ignore any subpoena from the Senate for him or any other PSG officer to appear and testify. “Kung gusto niyo ng gulo, di ibigay ko sa inyo ang gulo,” the President warned.

Indeed, these senators — Richard Gordon, Franklin Drilon, Kiko Pangilinan and Leila de Lima — were fussing too much about nothing. The issue was blown out of proportion. All they wanted was to press on the issue in another vain effort to undermine the credibility of President Duterte. As I explained in my YouTube livestream on Monday, the very law (RA 9711) that established the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not contain a provision that makes what the PSG had done to be illegal. But the way these senators, to include former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, tried to paint the issue, the PSG had committed treason.

The very mandate of the FDA demonstrates that the agency is tasked to “safeguard public health and safety”. It is a regulatory agency. It is empowered to require all manufacturers, dealers and distributors of drugs and medicines, processed food (including herbal products), cosmetics and medical gadgets and devices to get a license before these can be sold or dispensed to the public at large. Hence, the regulatory powers are aimed at preventing products that are yet untested as to potential harm from being sold on the open market.

The law is directed at manufacturers, importers, exporters and distributors of products under the ambit of the FDA regulatory powers. It does not prohibit private individuals or groups from bringing in drugs and medicines from abroad that are already in use at the source, but are not yet registered with FDA, if these are for their use only. The law doesn’t prohibit anybody from buying a life-saving drug from abroad and ingest it for his or her treatment. What it prohibits is the importation of unregistered products on commercial scale and for purpose of being sold on the market.

So much non-sense have been said about this issue. This is the problem with our politicians and mainstream media. They look at a speck on the President’s face and make it look like a mountain. Too bad for them, their efforts at undermining the President have failed time and again.

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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