PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) Chief, Police General Guillermo Eleazar said he has invoked his subpoena power as chief of the PNP in running after those behind the alleged sale of COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination slots.
“In order to further ferret out the truth on this controversy, I am invoking the power given to me by the law as the Chief PNP to issue subpoena against the persons involved in the alleged sale of COVID vaccines and vaccine slots,” said PGen. Eleazar.
Under Republic Act 10973, “The Chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Director and the Deputy Director for Administration of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), referred to as the Criminal Investigation Unit in Section 35(b)(4) of this Act, shall have the power to administer oath, and issue subpoena and subpoena duces tecum in relation to its investigation,” particularly in relation to the police’s conduct of investigations, especially high-profile crimes.
PGen Eleazar earlier tasked the CIDG and the Anti-Cybercrime Group to look into the allegations as the sale of the vaccines and vaccination slots became a topic in social media.
Police investigators have already identified at least one person who directly offered a vaccine and a vaccine slot to a high school friend through a social media messaging app, but has reportedly went into hiding and has already deactivated all his social media accounts.
Meanwhile, PGen. Eleazar expressed support for Malacañang’s call for Local Government Units (LGUs) to pass penal ordinances that would prohibit the sale of vaccination slots allotted for their constituents. He said such ordinances would ban the unscrupulous practice and penalize violators, serving as a deterrent.
“An ordinance that would explicitly state that COVID-19 vaccination slots are non-transferrable would be a very helpful measure to deter persons from selling or at least being tempted to sell these slots. The ordinance can also clearly define penalties for persons who still attempt to do so as well as LGU employees who might abet them,” PGen. Eleazar pointed out.
He said that there are national laws that penalize the sale of unregistered medicine, including COVID-19 vaccines, as well as for swindling, citing the FDA Act of 2009, the Revised Penal Code and the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
“Maaari masampahan ng kasong paglabag sa Republic Act 11332 ang magbebenta ng slots pero kung magkakaroon ng ordinansa ay mas magiging specific ang offense at ang kaparusahan para dito. Kaya hindi basta-basta makalulusot ang ganitong klaseng iligal na gawain,” PGen Eleazar said.