MANILA (UPDATE) - The Civil Service Commission on Wednesday reminded government workers to obey the law, which include health standards set by authorities against COVID-19.
"Civil servants are not above the law. Like everyone else, public officials and employees are bound to obey the law, and that includes compliance to the standards set forth by the government authorities leading the battle against COVID-19," CSC commissioner Aileen Lizada said in a statement.
She was reacting to a recent disclosure made by a civil servant about using an unregistered product and the latter's plan of being a distributor of COVID-19 vaccine developed by China's Sinopharm.
Lizada did not name the civil servant in her statement but President Rodrigo Duterte's special envoy to China Ramon Tulfo disclosed this in his column on Manila Times.
"While the said civil servant is beyond the disciplinary authority of the CSC being a presidential appointee, it is incumbent upon him, as with any other civil servants, to act and conduct himself in a manner worthy of being called a public servant," she said.
Lizada said Republic Act 9711 or Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009 and Special Counterfeit Law (or RA 8203) requires product registration before medicines or products may be used within the country to protect the public from any harm.
She also said civil servants must act and conduct themselves according to the norms set by RA 6713 or Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
"Two of the most important qualities enumerated, perhaps, are 'Commitment to Public Interest' and 'Professionalism' wherein public officials and employees, at all times, ought to uphold the public interest over and above their individual personal interests, and that they should perform and discharge their duties with the highest degree of excellence, professionalism, intelligence and skills," Lizada said.
State health regulator FDA said a license was required for drug distributors and the product must be authorized.
"The agreement to be a distributor of a product is between the individual or company and the manufacturer. That is a private contract," FDA director-general Eric Domingo said in a statement.
"If the local company then plans to import and distribute a product to the Philippines then they need to get a license to operate as a drug importer or distributor and then get the product authorized by FDA," he added.
It is up to state agencies to do the "right action," said Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles on Tulfo's supposed conflict of interest after he said he has applied to be a distributor of the Chinese vaccine.
"We’ll leave it up to the agencies of government to do the right action if it’s actionable. It’s news to me so I really don't know the details regarding that," he told ANC's Headstart.
Tulfo bared in his column that he was vaccinated with Sinopharm jabs in October, along with other officials whose names he withheld.
He also said he "risked his life" to have himself inoculated with the Sinopharm vaccine because he applied to be a local distributor.
"That’s another confession: I have applied to be one of the distributors of the Sinopharm vaccine in the country, that’s why I risked my life to have myself inoculated ahead of the public," Tulfo wrote.
The FDA has yet to approve the Sinopharm vaccine for emergency use but issued this month a "compassionate use license" for the Presidential Security Group to take the jabs.