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Hontiveros: Gov’t should immediately act on ‘smuggled’ COVID vaccines

/ 12:05 PM January 05, 2021
Risa Hontiveros

Senator Risa Hontiveros. File photo / Joseph Vidal / Senate PRIB

MANILA, Philippines — The government should immediately act to identify and prosecute those behind the “smuggled and unverified” COVID-19 vaccines in the country, Senator Risa Hontiveros said Tuesday.

Hontiveros said this, as she pointed out recent reports of 100,000 Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (Pogo) workers in the country who were inoculated with “smuggled and unauthorized vaccine.”

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The senator said the government cannot dismiss such reports.

“Unregistered pharmaceuticals are actively smuggling, distributing and selling unauthorized vaccines in the country and our regulatory agencies don’t seem to be ringing the alarm loud enough. This is clearly a crime under our laws,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

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Hontiveros also cited several incidents in 2019 where illegal COVID-19 facilities exclusively catering Chinese Pogo workers were discovered and shut down.

“Bakit kapag regular na mamamayan na walang mask o umattend ng bawal na party, inaaresto at ikinukulong? Pero kapag Chinese nationals o opisyal ng gobyerno na gumagamit ng ilegal na bakuna, pinagtatakpan pa at pinapalusot?” Hontiveros said.

(Why is it that when a regular citizen is without a mask or is attending a prohibited party they are arrested and imprisoned? But when Chinese nationals or government officials use illegal vaccines, they are covered up and allowed?)

“Bakit ba ang nangunguna pa yatang kunsintidor ng kontrabando ay ang sarili pa nating gobyerno?” she continued.

(Why does it seem like the one leading in allowing these contrabands is our own government?)

Hontiveros said the government should “act immediately to identify and prosecute the source of these smuggled,  unverified and therefore dangerous vaccines, which threaten the effectivity of our health response to COVID-19.”

“The Department of Health (DOH), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) must enforce stricter measures to ensure that our protocols for vaccine approval are followed and that health professionals with under-the-table vaccination dealings are stripped of their licenses and held criminally liable,” Hontiveros said.

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Chinese-Filipino leader, Teresita Ang-See, disclosed on Monday that 100,000 Chinese based in the Philippines were inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine in December.

This announcement came amid a controversy over the vaccination of troops from the Presidential Security Group (PSG) when there is currently no approved COVID-19 vaccine in the country yet.

Ang See claimed that the source of the vaccines was the same one as the PSG’s. Zac Sarao, INQUIRER.net trainee

JPV

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