MANILA—President Rodrigo Duterte warned those who are selling COVID-19 vaccine slots, saying jabs are free.
Duterte said he received reports of individuals involved in the selling of COVID-19 vaccine slots, with a health worker arrested in Mandaluyong City.
"It has come to my attention that a health worker was arrested by the NBI for alleged unauthorized or unlawful sale of Sinovac vaccines. This comes after a report few weeks ago about vaccination slots being peddled by unscrupulous individuals in Mandaluyong City," he said during a recorded public briefing aired early Wednesday.
"This is very alarming. We condemn these acts and we will not allow perpetrators to go unpunished. I order every relevant authority to investigate this matter thoroughly and press charges accordingly."
According to Duterte, the issue of illegal sale of COVID-19 vaccines is very sensitive for him, even comparing it to the illegal drug trade.
"Alam mo 'pag medisina, ma-ano ako, I'm extra sensitive sa mga ganoon. Lalo na you deprive, well, bilihin ninyo. 'Pag walang pera, 'yung mahirap ang maalisan ng whatever the opportunity or the slots taken away," he said.
(You know, if it's about medicines, I'm extra sensitive to the issue, especially since you deprive others. If they don't have money, the poor are deprived of the opportunity, or the slots are taken away from them.)
" 'Wag ninyong gawin 'yan kasi . . . Nag-warning lang ako. 'Wag ninyong gawin. Gaya ng droga, huminto kayo. Sinabi na sa inyo."
(Do not do that, I am warning you. Do not do it. Just like illegal drugs, stop it. I am telling you.)
Duterte also said only government is allowed to buy COVID-19 vaccines.
"You are not allowed to buy, the government will take care of that. Do not press your luck too far. You might regret it. Warning ko lang sa inyo 'yan (This is my warning to you.)," he said.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier warned against the illegal selling of COVID-19 vaccines in the country.
Galvez said COVID-19 jabs in the Philippines are only under emergency use authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration and, "therefore, cannot be commercially sold."
So far, more than 2.8 million Filipinos have received 2 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, while over 8.8 million others have been jabbed with their first dose, according to data from the Department of Health.