Joseph Peter Calleja, Manila
Updated: June 09, 2021 10:37 AM GMT
A priest is calling on authorities in the Philippines to put a stop to people selling places in Covid-19 vaccination queues. (Photo: Unsplash)
A Catholic priest has called on the Philippine government to put a stop to people trying to profit from Covid-19 vaccines procured with public money.
Such corruption runs contrary to the moral teachings of the Catholic Church, according to Father Benjamin Valencia of the Prelature of Batanes in northern Luzon.
His call followed reports that police had filed criminal charges against two people who allegedly sold places in vaccination queues for 15,000 pesos (US$300).
“Government-procured vaccines must be free. No one should be using them to make a profit at this moment. As far as I know, all vaccines are procured by the government using our taxes, so no one should be paying for anything,” Father Valencia told UCA News.
He said the selling of places in vaccine queues had become rampant and was being advertised on social media.
“I’ve seen several ads on social media asking for money in exchange for a vaccine slot. One of them even bragged he has contacts within the government. The price also varies depending on the brand of vaccine on offer. The Chinese-made Sinovac is the most affordable,” Father Valencia added.
This was really insulting to me as a taxpayer and a businessman. These vaccines should go to people who need them most first
One churchgoer in Manila claimed he received a text message from a classmate who offered to place him higher on a vaccination list for 12,000 pesos.
“This was really insulting to me as a taxpayer and a businessman. These vaccines should go to people who need them most first,” said Norman Rabaya from Las Pinas City.
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Benhur Abalos said profiteers would face criminal cases.
“I warn you, the full extent of the law will be applied here. Even those who buy places will be prosecuted,” Abalos said when asked about the profiteering.
Father Valencia said the very practice was repugnant.
“When someone sells a vaccination slot, it has a moral implication as the place could go to someone at less risk. Let us not deprive those who need the vaccine more urgently than others,” he said.
Agreeing with Abalos, he said people buying places are equally guilty.