Penalties for sale of fake vaccine cards, vaccine slots pushed in Cebu City

By: Dyrecka Letigio - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | August 28,2021 - 02:38 PM

Two Cebu City senior citizens wait for their turn to be vaccinated in this April 22, 2021 photo. | CDN Digital file photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines — A Cebu City official is pushing for the imposition of fines against individuals arrested for the sales of fake vaccine cards and vaccine slots as the city government continuous to intensify its vaccination program.

Councilor Renato Osmeña Jr., the proponent of the proposed measure, said that these practices are tantamount to fraud and the falsification of a government document.

In order for the city government to ensure a fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, there is a need to safeguard its limited vaccine allocation from pilferage and misappropriation and from persons misrepresenting their vaccine status.

This was also a means to discourage the tampering of vaccine cards so its holders could chose their preferred vaccine brand, he said.

Arrested violators will be asked to pay a fine of P5,000 or render two to six hours of community service or both depending on the discretion of the court.

“The current state of the law is that no person or organization may engage in the sale, distribution, or administration of COVID-19 vaccines for profit, while the country is in a State of Public Health Emergency and without market authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA),”reads a portion of Osmena’s draft ordinance, which he submitted to the City Council during their session on Wednesday, August 25.

Osmena’s ordinance was referred to the laws committee of the City Council for review.

Recent reports have surfaced on individuals selling vaccine slots and counterfeiting vaccine cards for a fee.  This prompted Cebu City officials to seek the help of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the matter.

Osmeña said the approval of his ordinance is expected to deter these types of fraudulent activities.

In his proposed ordinance the following acts are considered as punishable:

  1. Counterfeiting, forging, altering or imitating a vaccine card or any information, signature and other feature on the same.
  2. Misrepresenting any information requested by authorities in relation to and in connection with vaccination, including but not limited to the information indicated in the vaccine card, for purposes of obtaining undue benefits and privileges to the prejudice of the public.
  3. Sale, advertisement, distribution, solicitation, administration of COVID-19 vaccines for profit or commercial purposes without any authorization or permit issued by the FDA or its equivalent.
  4. Acquiring COVID-19 vaccine slot, whether from a private individual or a government official or employee without any authority.
  5. Sale, advertisement, distribution, solicitation, administration of fake COVID-19 vaccines.
  6. Sale of COVID-19 vaccination slot originally reserved to the person applying for the same to others for the purpose of substituting someone other than the original applicant.
  7. Misrepresentation of vaccine status for purposes of fraud or deceit including a fully vaccinated person pretending to be unvaccinated for purposes of receiving an additional vaccination.
  8. Commission of any other deceit or fraud in relation to the Government’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

Osmena’s ordinance said that if the offense is committed by a juridical entity that is duly organized in accordance with law, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), President, General Manager, or other officer in charge will be held liable for the violation.

In addition, the business permit and license to operate of the concerned juridical entity may be revoked or canceled.

The City Legal Department, Business Permits and Licensing Department, the Cebu City Police Office, and the Barangays are tasked to implement the ordinance upon its approval.  / dcb

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TAGS: fake vaccine cards, Junjun Osmena, penalties, proposed ordinance, sales of vaccine slots

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