MANILA - Charges have been filed against two individuals behind the "vaccination slots for sale" scheme that went viral in May, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said.
In a statement released Wednesday, PNP said Cyle Cedric Soriano Bonifacio and Melvin Polo Gutierrez were charged with estafa, and other violations against the Anti-Red Tape Law of 2007 and the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
It was in late May when a concerned citizen took to Twitter to say that Bonifacio offered him COVID-19 vaccines at prices ranging from P12,000 to P15,000 in the city of Mandaluyong. The incident went viral, with the Department of the Interior and Local Government ordering PNP to investigate the matter.
Mandaluyong City Mayor Menchie Abalos has since denied that such scheme is happening in the city and encouraged residents to report said incidents.
Bonifacio first surrendered to the authorities days after the incident went viral, introducing himself as a kin of a barangay official, but clarified that his parents are not involved in the scheme.
PNP chief Guillermo Eleazar said Bonifacio identified Gutierrez, a fire and barangay volunteer, as the person who assisted him with acquiring the vaccination slots.
"Ang pahayag pa ni Bonifacio, isang beses lang niya nagawa ang mamagitan para sa pagkuha ng vaccination slot at ang P12,000 na binigay sa kanya, through online bank transfer, ay reward daw," Eleazar said.
(Bonifacio said he only did this once, and he receives P12,000 through online bank transfer as a reward.)
"It was from here that he claimed he got the idea to offer vaccination slots for cash. He tried to offer the service to his former high school classmate who rejected his sales pitch and made the public aware of Bonifacio’s illegal activity."
The PNP are looking into the possibility that others may be involved in the scheme.
The PNP chief also reiterated that the government-led COVID19 vaccination rollout is free of charge all over the country.