MANILA (UPDATE) - The National Task Force Against COVID-19 said it was investigating the reported sale of COVID-19 vaccines, citing commercial distribution of shots is punishable by law.
The task force said in a statement Saturday that an investigation is underway after receiving reports there have been alleged sales of vaccines or priority slots in Mandaluyong and San Juan.
"All the vaccines procured by the national government and are currently being administered have only been given Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). They are not for commercial distribution. Likewise, the priority slots are strictly intended for the A1, A2 and A3 priority groups only," the statement read.
The task force also lauded the efforts done by Mandaluyong City Mayor Menchie Abalos and San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora to exert effort to curb the illegal sale.
Abalos already sought the help of the National Bureau of Investigation’s cybercrime division to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter.
"It is our hope that these local leaders will serve as an example to their counterparts throughout the country, and encourage them to take decisive action when the health and welfare of their constituents are at stake," the task force said.
"To reiterate, our vaccines are free and those who will commit fraud and illegal acts of selling and providing priorities and privileged access for financial gains will be investigated and punished."
Parañaque City has also received reports of "unscrupulous individuals offering COVID-19 vaccines for sale or assuring slots in the City's vaccination program," Mayor Edwin Olivarez said.
The city urges its residents to report such incidents, he said.
The Department of Health in Metro Manila has coordinated with local governments in investigating these reports, said regional director Dr. Gloria Balboa as she reiterated that the best vaccine were the ones available.
"Paalala sa ating mga kababayan, 'wag ho ninyo patulan ang mga ganyan na nagbebenta ng slot. Hindi ho yan binenta talaga. It’s for free," she told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo Sunday.
(A reminder to the public: let's not entertain those who sell vaccine slots. It's not for sale. It's for free.)
"Lahat ng 4 na vaccines na nakarating po sa atin ay safe at epektibo po yan. Kahit alin d'yan sa mga yan ay pupuwede ho kasi 'di naman po natin ipapamigay kung hindi."
(All four vaccines that have arrived in the country are safe and effective. The public may avail of any of these because we would not give them out if they weren't safe and effective.)
The Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group will trace the social media accounts of those who allegedly sold vaccines or inoculation slots, PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronaldo Olay said Sunday.
"Doon sa mga lumalabas sa social media, may mga resibo silang pinapakita at yun ang gusto nating imbestigahan. 'Yun po ay scam kasi alam naman natin na ang bakuna ay libre," he told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(Social media posts show receipts, which we want to investigate. It's a scam because we know vaccination is free.)