President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is welcomed by Presidential Security Group (PSG) Commander Brigadier General Jose Niembra during the 122nd PSG anniversary at the PSG Compound on June 26, 2019. ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday urged members of his security group who received unregistered Covid-19 vaccines to “shut up” if asked for statements regarding their vaccination.

Duterte said he initially did not know about the vaccination of members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) but defended it in a televised address, saying it was a matter of “self-preservation.”

“I really do not know about this itong vaccine sa PSG. To me, it’s a matter of self-preservation. Iyan lang. Whatever be your objection, whatever be your criticism, para sa akin, it is a matter of preservation,” he said.

The president also told Congress to “not tinker with the PSG.”

“I will not elaborate on it but do not force my hand to meddle into this affair because maybe I will not — I am not so keen about allowing Durante and the rest of the PSG to testify,” he said.

“And if that is the case, then I would ask the PSG to just shut up. Do not answer. Invoke the right against self-incrimination at wala kayong makukuha,” he continued.

Duterte also instructed Congress to not force his soldiers to testify against their will: “I do not think it will be good for you and for me. It would not be healthy for everybody.”

“‘Pag ginawa ninyo ‘yan, there will be a little crisis. Nasa inyo. Ako, I am prepared. I am preferred — preferred — prepared to defend my soldier. I will not allow them for all of their good intentions to be brutalized in a hearing tapos kung ano-ano,” he added.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon earlier recommended inviting PSG Chief Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante III to a hearing to divulge details about the vaccination.

But Duterte ordered Durante to “not obey the summons” and “stay put in the barracks.”

The president also said uniformed personnel needed to be vaccinated to protect his health.

“Ako ‘yung presidente, I hate to say this, pero kailangan ako ng security na close-in… Now, how can I survive if wala akong close-in to guard me and the people that would mix in the crowd to guard — to prevent untoward inci — you know, incidents? Iyan ang — iyan ang problema diyan. They are caught in a bind,” he explained.

The FDA earlier labeled the PSG vaccination illegal. John Ezekiel J. Hirro