DOJ taps NBI to probe unauthorized COVID-19 vaccinations

Robie de Guzman   •   December 31, 2020   •   292

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into reports of unauthorized vaccinations against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he has directed the NBI to probe the alleged distribution and inoculation of unregistered vaccines against COVID-19 for possible violation of existing laws.

“I have already given instructions last Monday to NBI OIC Chief Eric Distor to immediately investigate the reported unauthorized distribution and administration of unregistered anti-COVID-19 vaccines, for possible violation of the FDA Act, the Consumer Act, and the Medical Practice Act, among others.”

The move follows the reported unauthorized use of President Rodrigo Duterte’s military security detail of unregistered vaccines.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said the vaccines were smuggled into the country as the Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve a COVID-19 vaccine to be used in the Philippines.

Guevarra, however, clarified that the probe is a “general instruction, not zeroing in on the PSG (Presidential Security Group) or any particular incident of unauthorized vaccination.”

Duterte earlier disclosed that some military personnel and officials have already been inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine.

The PSG chief later confirmed Duterte’s statement but was quick to clarify that it was administered to his men without the knowledge of the president and Lorenzana.

The PSG chief did not say how the vaccine was obtained or which brand was used.

The move, however, was justified as it was done to protect them and the president from possible infection. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

San Juan Mayor Zamora contracts COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   March 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora confirmed on Monday that he has tested positive for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a Facebook post, Zamora said he is currently under quarantine at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center.

“I would like to announce that I have tested positive with COVID-19. My results came out today after a routine swab test yesterday evening, February 28, 2021. A confirmatory test was done today and the results turned out to be positive,” he said.

“I have decided to quarantine myself in Cardinal Santos Medical Center to ensure that I do not transmit the virus to anyone else in the community and to protect everyone around me including my children and my wife who is a cancer survivor,” he added.

I have tested positive for COVID-19. I am asymptomatic and in good physical condition. I have decided to quarantine…

Posted by Mayor Francis Zamora on Monday, March 1, 2021

He advised those who came in contact with him in the past few days to have themselves tested for the virus and coordinate with the City Health Office for the conduct of free RT-PCR test.

Duterte to consider nationwide MGCQ if vaccine supply is enough

Marje Pelayo   •   March 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is considering the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force against COVID-19 to further ease quarantine restrictions in the country particularly in Metro Manila.

“I am considering it. Our economy is really down, as in down so the earlier na mabilisan itong vaccine, the better,” he said.

However, he wants to make sure first that there is enough supply of COVID-19 vaccines not only in Metro Manila but in all provinces before he allows the full reopening of the country’s economy to prevent further decline.

“If the vaccine is available to anybody for one reason or another, sa mga probinsiya na-distribute na ‘yan kasi hindi naman mag-abot ng 110 million. Sa estimate nila it’s about 40 million. Kung maka-hit tayo ng 40 million o nandiyan na ‘yong vaccine, maski mag — mayroon tayong mga 20, 30 (million) bubuksan ko na.” the President said.

President Duterte acknowledges the people’s need to work to be able to eat and survive and this will only be sustained by reopening the economy and also to allow business to regrow.

Over the weekend, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the National Capital Region and some other areas will remain under general community quarantine on March 1.

The rest of the country will remain under modified general community quarantine.

Recommendations placing NCR under MGCQ were also raised, however, the President responded that without vaccine rollout, no MGCQ will be declared.

On Sunday (February 28), China’s donation of 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccine has arrived in the country and the government is expected to begin vaccine rollout on Monday (March 1). MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

China’s donated vaccines arrive in Phl; sparks hope for end of COVID-19

Maris Federez   •   March 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The first batch of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, China-based Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac, finally arrived at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on Sunday afternoon (February 28).

In a small ceremony, key government officials led by President Rodrigo Duterte welcomed the arrival of 600,000 doses of donated vaccines from Beijing.  

“I convey my sincere gratitude to the Chinese people and the government of China for this gesture of friendship and solidarity,” President Rodrigo Duterte said at the ceremony.

The president reiterated that “vaccines should be treated as a global public good and be made available to all.”

“I’m confident more batches of vaccine will be available with great dispatch until every Filipino will be given the chance to get vaccinated,” he said.

Meanwhile, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the arrival of Sinovac vaccine — the first COVID-19 vaccine to reach the Philippines — has sparked hope that the pandemic is nearing its end.

“That plane is carrying hope that we can finally return to our lives and light for our very dark journey,” Roque said.

“Masayang masaya po, buong Pilipinas po nagdiriwang, patapos na po ang pandemya, nariyan na ang bakuna,” Roque said.

“Makakabalik na tayo sa ating mga [dating buhay]. Nagsimula na po tayo, tuloy-tuloy na po tayo,” he added.

Health workers in the National Capital Region are expected to get their first dose of COVID-19 vaccines by March 1. —/mbmf

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