Smuggled COVID-19 vaccines? PNP deploys cops to monitor

Published February 11, 2021, 10:08 AM

by Aaron Recuenco 

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has mobilized special units that will run after persons and groups engaged in smuggling and selling vaccines for the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) in the country.


PNP chief Gen. Debold Sinas said he had already instructed the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the Intelligence Group (IG) to continuously monitor black market activities for counterfeit and unauthorized COVID-19 vaccines that may have entered the country.

“The CIDG, IG and National Operational Support Units will launch operations to prevent the entry, distribution and sale of COVID-9 vaccines without proper authorization from the concerned government agencies,” said Sinas.

On Tuesday, the National Task Force on COVID-19, the Department of Health and the Food and Drugs Administration reminded the public that the selling of COVID-19 vaccines are prohibited. 

This, after reports have been circulating that COVID-19 vaccines are being sold in Manila and other parts of the country, the vaccines are believed to have been smuggled into the Philippines from other countries, especially China.

The issue of smuggled COVID-10 vaccines, however, dragged Malacañang into controversy after the military admitted that soldiers assigned to the Presidential Security Group were already inoculated as early as last year, allegedly by smuggled vaccines. 

Based on the policy of the World Health Organization, only the governments could strike a deal for the purchase of COVID vaccines with pharmaceutical companies. Even local government units and private companies have to seek approval from the Philippine government for instance to buy the vaccines through a tripartite agreement—Government, pharmaceutical company and third party that include companies and LGUs. 

“As emphasized by DOH, NTF and FDA no particular brand of COVID-19 vaccine is authorized to be marketed commercially in the Philippines. The PNP will strictly implement this official policy, and take appropriate police action in accordance with existing laws,” said Sinas.

The PNP has already finished its PNP Vaccination Plan “Caduceus”. The plan involves threat assessment, contingency planning and simulation exercises in pilot areas; as well as organization of the Medical Reserve Forces, inter-agency coordination, and operational planning by Police Regional Offices.