MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday vowed to go after sellers of fake Covid-19 vaccines in the country.
In a pre-recorded public address, Duterte issued a stern warning against unscrupulous individuals selling fake vaccines or suffer the consequences of their actions.
“Itong nagi-import ng walang ano, walang source tapos peke tapos ang mga tao magpabakuna, magbayad ng hala dahil nga may bakuna available, I’m just warning you, huwag na huwag kayo magkakamali dito na hirap na ang Pilipino tapos dagdagan mo ng ganitong pamamaraan ng hanapbuhay. Pupulutin ka talaga kung saan (These importing without a source and selling fake vaccines, I’m warning you don’t make the mistake of doing something that will cause more suffering to Filipinos),” he said.
He said selling fake Covid-19 vaccines and medicines would pose serious health risks.
“Magpeke na kayo ng candy diyan, huwag itong medesina. I’m warning you, huwag kayo magkamali dito (You can sell fake candy, but not medicine. I’m warning you, don’t make this mistake),” he added.
Duterte added that he will make sure that distributors of fake Covid-19 vaccines will be punished for their crimes.
“Talagang nasa iyo kung gusto mo na, panahon mo ‘di sige. Hahanapin kita at ibigay ko sayo ano ang dapat para sa iyo (It’s up to you if you want to suffer the consequences. I’ll find you and see to it that you get what you deserve),” he said.
Under Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9711 or the Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009, the importation, sale and administering of unregistered vaccines has a penalty of a fine or imprisonment.
‘Stretch your patience’
Duterte appealed for more “patience” from the public amid criticism over the government’s limited supply of Covid-19 vaccines and its slow rollout.
“We are really doing the best of our best talent getting the vaccine from anywhere para menus menus yung hawaan (to curb the spread of Covid-19),” he said.
He said the public has to understand that procuring Covid-19 vaccine was not easy amid limited global supply.
“Stretch your patience and understanding. We are doing our best. We are not a vaccine producing country. Wala tayong expertise, wala tayong knowledge. So naghihintay tayo (We don’t have expertise, we don’t have knowledge. So we’re just waiting),” he added.
He admitted that being unable to immediately procure Covid-19 vaccines felt like being in purgatory.
“Gusto ko nga umiyak sa harap ninyo pero naubos na ang luha ko. Kung alam lang ninyo ang…Para akong dumadaan ng purgatoryo ngayon hangga’t hindi ko matulungan lahat ng Pilipino (I want to cry in front of you but my tears have run out. If you only knew…it feels like passing through purgatory that I can’t help all Filipinos),” he said.
On Monday afternoon, Duterte welcomed the arrival of 1 million doses of the “CoronaVac” Covid-19 vaccine purchased by the government from Chinese drugmaker Sinovac Biotech.
A total of PHP700-million was spent by the government for the purchase of the 1 million doses of CoronaVac.
In total, the government intends to buy 25 million doses of CoronaVac.
The previous two shipments of CoronaVac, totaling to one million doses, were donations from the Chinese government.
The bulk of vaccine doses from various brands are expected to arrive by the second quarter of the year.
The government aims to inoculate 50 million to 70 million Filipinos nationwide, but it is not making inoculation against Covid-19 mandatory. (PNA)