PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) chief General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar on Wednesday said he will use his subpoena power in running after personalities behind the alleged sale of COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination slots in the country.
“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,” he said.
“Hindi katanggap-tanggap ang ganitong uri ng gawain, totoo man o hindi, and I will do everything in my power as your Chief,PNP upang mabigyan ng linaw ang isyung ito,” he added.
Under Republic Act 10973, the PNP chief and the Director and Deputy Director for Administration of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group are given the authority to issue subpoenas in relation to the police’ conduct of investigations, particularly on high-profile crimes.
The same law also authorizes the three PNP officials to administer oath and issue subpoena and subpoena duces tecum in relation to investigation. The PNP-CIDG has been referred to as the Criminal Investigation Unit in Section 35(b) (4) of RA 10973.
Gen.E leazar earlier tasked the PNP-CIDG headed by Major Gen. Albert Ignatius D. Ferro and the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group headed by Brigadier Gen. Robert T. Rodriguez to look into the allegations as the sale of the vaccines and vaccination slots became a topic in the social media.
He said that his 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. However, the person reportedly went into hiding and has already deactivated all his social media accounts.
“At least isang tao na ang kilala na ng PNP na sangkot dito kaya ang tamang gawin niya ay pumunta sa aking opisina upang magbigay linaw sa isyung ito. Huwag ka nang makipaglaro ng taguan sa ating mga kapulisan,” said Gen. Eleazar.
The top cop also expressed his full 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 that the passage of such ordinances that would ban the unscrupulous practice and penalize violators would really serve 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,” the PNP chief pointed out.
Gen. Eleazar said such ordinance would support national laws such as the Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009, the Revised Penal Code and the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2021 which penalizes the sale of unregistered medicine including COVID-19 vaccines specifically online.
“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,” he said.