MANILA, Philippines — Former top cop and now Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa said Wednesday that “nothing is wrong” about Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Filemon Santos Jr.’s asking help from China’s ambassador in the country to buy a supposed COVID-19 drug for his infected close friends.
In a test message to reporters, Dela Rosa said he would even seek the aid of a quack doctor “if I were in his shoes as a COVID-19 patient.”
“Nothing is wrong. In times of crisis we have to be practical so much so that there is no prescribed medicine yet that can cure COVID-19,” Dela Rosa said in apparent defense of his mistah at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).
Both Dela Rosa and Santos belong to the PMA Sinagtala Class of 1986.
“If I were in his shoes as a COVID-19 patient, I would even reach out to a quack doctor just to stay alive,” Dela Rosa added.
Early this week, a photo of a letter signed by Santos circulated on social media in which he asked the help of Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian to purchase the China-made pills he purportedly used when he was diagnosed with COVID-19. Using the AFP letterhead, Santos told the Chinese ambassador that “I intend to give the said drug to my close friends who have also been infected“.
Specifically, Santos had requested assistance for the “procurement of 5 boxes of Carrimycin tablets which is available only in China”, believing that “the said medicine helped in my recovery from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection”.
Santos owned up to the letter but said he recalled such a request to the Chinese ambassador when he learned that the mentioned medication has yet to be approved for use of COVID-19 patients by the Food and Drug Administration.
On March 27, Santos tested positive for the novel coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2, which causes the highly contagious respiratory ailment COVID-19, which outbreak started in Wuhan City, Hubei, China in late 2019. He said he had taken the tablets, which were given by a Chinese friend, twice a day for six days with the clearance of his doctors.
On April 5, the AFP chief’s test result came out negative for the virus.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who belongs to PMA Maagap Class of 1973, later said the issue regarding Santos should be put to rest although he admitted that the AFP chief’s letter to the Chinese ambassador “may have been out of place” and should have been coursed through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
“I see nothing wrong,” he said in an earlier online briefing.
Nevertheless, Lorenzana believed the AFP chief’s action did not violate “any regulation or imperiled the security of the country”.
‘Treason at worst’
But for Senator Leila de Lima, such a move by Santos constitutes “conflict of interest” and “treason”.
“The AFP Chief of Staff is the highest military officer of the land, answerable only to the Office of the President. He is the ultimate person charged with protecting our national interest,” De Lima said Wednesday in a dispatch from Camp Crame.
“For him to owe a debt of gratitude to any foreign entity is a conflict of interest at best and treason at worst. conflict of interest at best and treason at worst,” she added.
Senator Panfilo Lacson also said there was an “admission that there is something wrong” with the AFP chief’s request when the letter was recalled.
The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this .