Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday said the government should answer all questions regarding the unauthorized vaccination of top officials and soldiers, saying a black market for unregistered COVID-19 vaccines “should not be tolerated in any way.”
Hontiveros statement comes after top Malacañang officials and members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were reportedly vaccinated by Chinese pharmaceutical company SinoPharmaceuticals (Sinopharm) despite the lack of authority from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“This was unsafe and illegal. These vaccines were clearly smuggled through a black market, and even worse, seem to (have been) sanctioned by the government,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
“Ang taumbayan ba ang nagbayad para sa iligal na vaccination na ito? (Is it taxpayers who paid for this illegal vaccination?)This is another whiff of corruption,” she also asked.
The senator lamented that the move was a major risk to the public’s health since it is possible that the vaccine is unsafe, and might not even be effective in the first place.
“They might become confident, freely walking COVID superspreaders. Nilagay din sa panganib ang mga sundalo natin (They put our soldiers in danger),” she said.
She said the National Taskforce against COVID-19 must provide a transparency report regarding the said illegal vaccination activity, which she said is “crucial” for preventing a waste of funds or even corruption.
It would also give peace of mind to the public whose fear of using vaccines remains high.
“The transparency report should reflect the decisions of the NTF every step of the way,” she said.
“The vaccination plan clearly says that the first step is to locally approve the vaccines, which with Sinopharm we didn’t. On top of this, we promised that we would vaccinate our healthcare workers, who put their lives on the line everyday, first, which we also didn’t. Ano na ba ang nangyayari sa plano natin? (What happened to our plans?), ” she asked.
She reminded the government that safety should be first priority in the procurement of COVID vaccines and the report would be a major declaration of accountability to the public.
“If the vaccine is unsafe, who will be held accountable? There are major life-threatening consequences in any lapse in this mass vaccination program. Kung may magkulang o gumawa ng kalokohan, dapat managot, (If somebody is negligent or if someone did something bad, they must be held accountable),” she said.