MANILA (2nd UPDATE)— Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar on Saturday said he has ordered the withdrawal of charges against a businesswoman who reported the alleged sale of COVID-19 vaccination slots but was later included in the police charge sheet.
Nina Ellaine Dizon-Cabrera, CEO of makeup brand Colourette Cosmetics, cried foul over the PNP's move to tag her as one of the three suspects behind the alleged scheme when she was the one who exposed it on social media.
Eleazar also said the chief of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Eastern Metro Manila was relieved for a "lapse in judgment" in including Cabrera among those charged.
In a separate statement, he said after a "thorough review" of the case, the cops found out that the business woman "should not have been included" in the complaint."
He ordered the case against her be withdrawn at the Mandaluyong City Prosecutor’s Office "in the soonest possible time."
"Ang mali ay mali at hindi dapat pinaninindigan. Sa halip, ito ay itinatama upang hindi na maulit, at upang kapulutan din ng aral para maging maayos ang pagsisilbi sa taumbayan," he said.
(What was wrong will always be wrong and this should not be tolerated. Instead, this should be corrected so it would not happen again and so we could learn from it in the name of public service)
Cabrera welcomed the development in a statement, but noted her "sadness" for "needlessly being dragged into a baseless accusation."
While she thanked Eleazar, Cabrera said the police force should take "full responsibility" for what happened.
"I am relieved that truth prevailed. Although we knew the truth from the start . . . Albeit this, I am still hoping that PNP Chief Eleazar and his men . . . apologize for the lapses that caused the name I built for years to be tarnished," she said.
Meanwhile, suspects Cyle Cedric Bonifacio and Melvin Gutierrez are still facing charges of estafa, violation of the Anti-Red Tape Law of 2007, and of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, according to the press release.
Under the alleged scheme, the suspects allegedly vaccination slots in Mandaluyong City for P12,000 to P15,000 each.
COVID-19 vaccinations are free, but certain sectors are currently being given priority with the still limited supply.
The mishap, however, "will not affect" the PNP's task to go after those engaged in illegal activities related to the country's vaccination program against COVID-19, according to Eleazar.
Due to the country's limited vaccine supplies, the government is following a priority list composed of health workers, the elderly, people with comorbidities, and economic frontliners.
- Reports from Raffy Santos and Jervis Manahan, ABS-CBN News