Guevarra orders NBI to probe smuggling of COVID-19 vaccines into PH
MANILA, Philippines — Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has ordered the conduct of an investigation on the smuggling of COVID-19 vaccines into the country, some of which went to the Presidential Security Group (PSG).
“I have already given instructions last Monday to NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) OIC Chief Eric Distor to immediately investigate the reported unauthorized distribution and administration of unregistered anti-COVID 19 vaccines, for possible violation of the FDA (Food and Drugs Administration) Act, the Consumer Act, and the Medical Practice Act, among others,” Guevarra told reporters.
But Guevarra clarified that the order is a “general instruction.”
“We are not zeroing in on the PSG or any particular incident of unauthorized vaccination,” he said.
Presidential Security Group (PSG) Commander Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante III said they were the ones who requested the vaccine without the knowledge of President Rodrigo Duterte or any other government agencies.
The government drew flak with the issue about a handful of military men and a Cabinet secretary getting the first dibs at a COVID-19 vaccine sans approval from the Food and Drugs Administration.
But Malacañang has already dismissed the issue saying the vaccine was a donation. Even Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said there was nothing wrong with the PSG getting vaccinated given that it was voluntary and not for commercial distribution.
Under the FDA Act of 2009, importation of “any health product that is adulterated, unregistered or misbranded” is among the prohibited and punishable acts. Other prohibited acts include manufacture, exportation, sale, and distribution.
“Those convicted of the crime will be sentenced to one to 10 years of imprisonment or a fine of P50,000 to P500,000, according to the law.
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