Senator Nancy Binay on Thursday urged the Philippine National Police (PNP) to go after syndicates that are behind the manufacture and sale of fake COVID-19 vaccines, instead of focusing on perceived threats.
“Instead of spending time questioning innocent individuals, pursuing false leads and chasing phantoms, bakit ‘di na lang habulin yung mga sindikatong nagkakalat ng pekeng mga bakuna (why don’t they go after syndicates who are spreading fake vaccines),” Binay said in a statement.
“With criminal groups taking advantage of the situation, our PNP should focus on real threats to public health, and not perceived threats,” she added.
Binay said that peddlers of counterfeit vaccines “present more of a threat to public security and public health safety than teacher-volunteers being questioned for helping schoolchildren in remote barangays in Mindanao.”
She referred to the recent operation in University of San Carlos in Cebu City where 26 Lumad students and teachers were taken into custody in what police claimed was a “rescue”.
“Paulit-ulit na nating sinasabi na sa ngayon, COVID-19 ang kalaban. Ang dapat na inaaksyunan natin ay ang paglipana ng mga pekeng bakuna at ng mga underground vaccine services. Tugisin na lang sana ang mga talagang lumalabag ng batas kaysa iyong mga volunteer na nagsasakripisyo para maturuan ang mga kabataan nating walang access sa edukasyon (We have been saying that our enemy right now is COVID-19. What we should be addressing is the proliferation of fake vaccines and and underground vaccine services. Chase those who are actually violating the law instead if volunteers who have been making sacrifices to teach children who have no access to education),” Biinay said.
On Monday, Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto posted on Twitter a screenshot of a seller offering 50 vials of fake Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines for P60,000.
Binay appealed to the PNP to be mindful of its oversight in gathering information about illegal innoculations, clandestine vaccination clinics, manufacturing and selling of fake COVID-19 vaccines.
She said there is “failure of intelligence” on the part of the PNP, saying reports on proliferation of fake vaccines have been existing since last year. She also mentioned reports of clandestine inoculation of Chinese offshore gaming workers.
“It should be incumbent upon law enforcement agencies like the PNP, NBI, or even the Bureau of Customs, to put a high premium on vaccine safety and continue to go after ‘sham’ clinics, and syndicates making counterfeit products. Government must make sure that fake and illegal vaccines do not proliferate in the local market,” Binay said.