As the country prepares for the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines from the WHO COVAX facility, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) directed the Philippine National Police (PNP) to be vigilant and arrest individuals who are selling or administering fake coronavirus vaccines.
DILG Officer-in-Charge (OIC) and Undersecretary Bernardo C. Florece, Jr. said the Department has received reports that fake vaccines are being circulated in the market as demand for vaccination increases. He said that LGUs and the PNP must be on top of the hunt and arrest illegal peddlers of fake COVID-19 vaccines.
“Some people are taking advantage of the pandemic to make money by selling fake vaccines. I am directing the PNP to arrest these criminals and ensure that these bogus vaccines are taken off the market,” Florece said.
“We must be cautious sapagkat ngayon nga ay mayroon nang kaso ng mga pekeng bakuna na mismong si Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto ang nakadiskubre,” he added. In a recent Twitter post, Sotto uploaded a picture of supposedly fake Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines with a stern warning to the public not to purchase them.
Florece said that the PNP must work double time in making certain that no bogus coronavirus vaccines are sold to unsuspecting people. He said that all possible areas such as air and sea ports where illegal supplies of fake coronavirus vaccines may enter the country must be properly and strictly monitored by the PNP Aviation Security Group and Maritime Group, among others.
He said that as part of PNP’s task to secure COVID-19 vaccines, they must also ensure that no fake vaccines are sold. “Hindi kami magugulat kung mayroon pang ibang lulutang na pekeng bakuna. Kaya mahigpit na pagbabantay ang ating inaasahan mula sa PNP, katuwang ang mga pamahalaang lokal,” he said.
“Nauna na nating ipinaalala ang pagtutulungan ng PNP at mga LGU sa pag-secure ng mga bakuna but the two must also collaborate to ensure that fake vaccines are confiscated and those responsible arrested and charged,” he added.
He said the public must not buy these vaccines and immediately report to the PNP and their local government any suspected individuals who are selling them. “Huwag po kayong magpapaloko. Tanging sa pamahalaan lamang po dadaan ang mga lehitimong bakuna at maliban dito ay ireport ninyo po ang mga nagbebenta at nagtuturok ng mga pekeng COVID-19 vaccines.”
The National Task Force COVID-19 aims to inoculate first the healthcare sector's 1.4 million individuals.
The DILG OIC also recently green lighted the arrest and prosecution of individuals faking the result of Reverse-Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) tests.