MANILA (3rd UPDATE) - A local businesswoman who exposed the alleged sale of COVID-19 vaccination slots is "really, really surprised" that she was included in the list of suspects in connection with the scheme.
Nina Ellaine Dizon-Cabrera, CEO of makeup brand Colourette Cosmetics, said she exposed the scheme on her Twitter page, where she has at least 123,000 followers, after seeing a post by someone selling COVID-19 vaccines.
"I was the one who posted about this alleged scheme. What happened was I saw a 'for sale' post online and then I inquired. And then I found out that they were selling not vaccines but vaccine slots from LGUs. So I took it to Twitter," she told ANC's Headstart.
"And then all of a sudden, I was caught in the middle. I was dragged into the case, saying I had the intent to sell—but really, I was the one who exposed it."
She added that she got in touch with the local government of San Juan after her Twitter posts went viral. "I posted everything on Twitter, all of my conversations...They even thanked me for all the information I passed on to them," she said.
Cabrera and 2 others were charged with estafa, violation of the Anti-Red Tape Law of 2007, and of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, according to a press release by the Philippine National Police.
Citing reports by the Anti-Cybercrime Group, PNP Chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said Cabrera was tagged after investigation showed that she allegedly offered 50 to 100 vaccination slots in Mandaluyong City. This supposedly showed intent to sell and alleged involvement in the illegal activity.
"Wait. BAT AKO UNG NAGBENTA BIGLA? Ako nga yung binentahan at ako ang nagpost? Hold on," Cabrera said in a Twitter post following the PNP press release.
In the interview, Cabrera said there were "no signs of communication" from the PNP about her supposed involvement, which was why she was surprised when her name popped up in news articles on Wednesday.
"Nobody ever reached out to me, which is why I was really surprised when I saw the article yesterday. Nobody asked me questions, nobody asked me anything about it. I was only in touch with San Juan LGU upon posting on May 21 and that was it," she said.
She noted, in her conversation with the seller, she inquired where the vaccines would be sourced from and she posted it after she found out that it would be from the LGU.
"That’s why I’m really, really surprised. I’m completely baffled as to how they got to that conclusion when I posted it myself. Why would I expose myself?" she said.
Cabrera said she and her lawyer are still waiting for the official letter from the prosecution. She said while she is angry, she is not worried because "the truth will prevail as always."
"I am telling the truth. I’m a really bad liar, so you would really catch me in the act if I am lying. I’m very transparent because I am a Twitter personality and I tend to share everything that I find out, which is why my hands are clean and I really don’t have any involvement in this," she said.
"I will fight these charges," she said.
Asked if her camp will file counter charges against the PNP, Cabrera said: "This is actually an option that we are considering right now."
In a statement, Eleazar said he ordered the directors of the police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) to look into possible lapses in the investigation.
"I assure Ms Dizon-Cabera that I will personally monitor the progress of my order—and to correct if there are things that need correcting in the interest of truth and justice regarding this ‘vaccine/vaccine slot for sale’ controversy," he said.