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Thousands of Chinese nationals received COVID-19 vaccine in Philippines —civic leader

Some 100,000 Chinese nationals living and working in the Philippines have already been vaccinated against COVID-19 despite the absence of approval from local regulators, a civic leader said Monday.

Teresita Ang See, a Chinese-Filipino, said the vaccinations started as early as November last year but she had no idea how the Chinese-developed vaccine was brought into the Philippines.

She said most of the Chinese nationals who received the vaccine work for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs).

“Okay lang sa akin na mabakunahan sila because we don’t have much control [over] them. Wala tayong basis to touch base with them, especially the POGO workers,” Ang See said on Tapatan sa Aristocrat forum.

“I’m glad that they are being vaccinated because it protects us also if they’re protected.”

Ang See said these Chinese nationals had confidence in the vaccine.

Sought for comment, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque and Philippine Ambassador to China Jose “Chito” Sta. Romana said they could not confirm the veracity of Ang See’s statement.

“Wala po akong impormasyon,” Roque said at a press briefing even as he welcomed the vaccinations.

“Kung totoo man eh di mabuti. [We have] 100,000 less possible carriers of COVID-19,” he said.

Sta. Romana, for his part, said: “Unless they came back to China and had the vaccination here in China, as to whether they were brought out of China, I cannot confirm or deny. I certainly don’t know.”

The Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009 prohibits the manufacture, importation, exportation, sale, and distribution, among others, of "any health product that is adulterated, unregistered or misbranded."

Those convicted of the crime will be sentenced to one to 10 years of imprisonment or a fine of P50,000 to P500,000, according to the law.

Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte said some Filipino soldiers, who were later identified as members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG), got the vaccine — even though the Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved any COVID-19 vaccine for use in the Philippines.

Officials have refused to disclose the source of the vaccine doses which were allegedly donated to the PSG. The inoculation of PSG members is currently being investigated by the military and the FDA.

The National Bureau of Investigation, meanwhile, is conducting an investigation into the reported illegal vaccination against COVID-19 in the Philippines. —KBK, GMA News