MANILA – President Rodrigo R. Duterte has criticized the unlawful selling of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines, which occurred barely weeks after vaccination slots were auctioned in Mandaluyong City.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) previously revealed that three people, including a nurse, were arrested on July 2 for allegedly selling 300 doses of the Sinovac vaccine.
“This is very alarming. We condemn these acts, and we will not allow perpetrators to go unpunished. I order every relevant authority to investigate this matter thoroughly and press charges accordingly,” Duterte stated in a pre-recorded public speech broadcasted early Wednesday.
He cautioned against the unlawful sale of Covid-19 vaccines, saying he was “extra sensitive” to issues concerning Filipino health and safety.
“Huwag na huwag ninyo (gawin ‘yan) kasi extra sensitive ako diyan, lalo na – lahat alam ‘yan – lalo na ‘yong para sa mga tao sa lahat. Ilang porsyento lang dito ang mayaman, lahat ‘yan puro mahirap (Don’t do that because I’m extra sensitive about matters like that. Everyone knows it. Especially because it’s supposed to be for everyone. Only a small percent of the population is rich, most of them are poor),” the President said.
He emphasized that Covid-19 vaccines cannot yet be sold since they are not yet commercially available.
“You are not allowed to buy. The government will take care of that. Maski kayong mga ano, mahirapan kayo (You’ll have difficulty doing it). So do not press your luck too far. You might regret it. Warning ko lang sa inyo ‘yan (That is my warning to you),” he said.
Duterte said that everyone, rich or poor, should be given free Covid-19 vaccinations.
“Again, let me reiterate to everyone: The Covid-19 vaccines given by the government are not for sale. They are given to our poor people for free. Not only to the poor but to the rich so they opt to have vaccinations in the vaccination centers,” he said.
According to reports, Alexis de Guzman, a nurse in Gat Andres Bonifacio Memorial Medical Center in Manila, was apprehended in an entrapment operation in Quezon City.
Calvin Yeung Roca, a Filipino-Chinese, and Kour Singh were arrested alongside De Guzman.
The NBI said that the suspects’ clients included Chinese employees.
According to Vince Dizon, deputy chief implementer of the National Task Force Against Covid-19, the Philippines had provided 12 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines as of Tuesday.
The government hopes to accomplish population protection by the end of the year by vaccinating 40% to 50% of the population, with a focus on priority locations.