Malacañang on Tuesday urged local government units (LGUs) to pass ordinances imposing penalties on persons selling COVID-19 vaccination slots.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque made the call after reports said slots were being sold for as high as P15,000 per dose in Metro Manila, depending on the brand of vaccine.
“Our call to the local government units is if they could pass an ordinance imposing penalties on those selling slots… we could have a clear legal basis to punish persons doing this,” Roque said in a press briefing.
He said the Philippine National Police (PNP) are now investigating the alleged vaccines for sale.
Meanwhile, Roque said people who refuse to take available COVID-19 vaccines will move back to the end of the line and lose their priority slot in the inoculation drive.
He said only health workers, the top vaccination priority, were given the opportunity to use the vaccines they prefer.
However, Roque said the government will not force the next top priority groups– the elderly and those with co-morbidities– to use available COVID-19 shots.
“But their prioritization will end. In other words, it will be back to the end of the line for them,” he added.
Rep. Manuel Lopez of Manila, chairman of the committee on Metro Manila development, cited the need for Congress to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation into the vaccines for sale to exact accountability from individuals who take advantage of the pandemic.
The investigation is also intended for Congress to determine if there is a need to draft a law to address the issue as well as to prevent the repeat of such in the future.
"Any agency that deviates from this should be penalized and sanctioned," Lopez said.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Tuesday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) submit its initial findings on its probe of the alleged sale of vaccines and vaccination slots next week.
The DOJ chief directed the NBI to file appropriate charges against those found responsible for the unlawful acts after Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benhur Abalos requested the investigation.
“MMDA Chair Benhur Abalos reported these incidents to me last Friday, May 21,” he said.
“So, I immediately instructed NBI Acting Chief Eric Distor to start investigating. The leads provided to us consisted of excerpts from certain online communications between the transacting parties,” he said.
The Philippine National Police is conducting its own separate probe into the alleged sale of vaccines and vaccination slots reportedly being done through social media.
The Taguig City government on Tuesday urged the public to report anyone found selling COVID-19 vaccines and slots for inoculation, saying it will not hesitate to prosecute these unscrupulous individuals.
In a statement, members of the city's Vaccine Task Force condemned the COVID-19 vaccination-for-a-fee scam in some areas in Metro Manila.
"We urge the public to report anyone who charges a fee for vaccine shots or slots to the Taguig Vaccination Hotlines at *09617044001* from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.," the Task Force said.
"These are heartless individuals, plain and simple. The Taguig City Vaccine Task Force will file charges against anyone who solicits money or any favors for registration or scheduling. They will be prosecuted and will face the full wrath of the law," it added.
City officials said all brands of vaccines are available for free to all residents.
Taguig City Mayor Lino Edgardo Cayetano said every Filipino has the right to be inoculated for protection against the deadly virus that has led to the loss of more than 20,000 lives.
"This is why Taguig continues with its round-the-clock free vaccination program for Taguigeños while strictly following the priority list set by the national government," he said.