The Philippines National Bureau of Investigation is investigating the reported illegal distribution and use of unregistered vaccines against COVID, The Manila Standard reported Thursday.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the National Bureau of Investigation has been ordered to determine possible violations of the Food and Drug Administration Act, the Medical Practice Act and the Consumer Act.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana Wednesday said unregistered COVID vaccines administered to President Rodrigo Duterte's security detail were smuggled into the country, but that he felt what happened was "justified".
Earlier this week, the defense chief and other top officials confirmed that at least one cabinet secretary and the president's top lieutenants received shots of China's Sinopharm COVID vaccine.
The Justice secretary said the investigation would not only focus on the unauthorized vaccination of members of the presidential security group. The Food and Drug Administration has yet to grant emergency use authorization to any vaccine for the contagious disease.
PSG Director Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante said a handful of unit members had been given a COVID vaccine "in good faith" and the president was only notified afterward. The security group is around 4,000 strong - though not all are assigned exclusively to the president.
Health regulators said that since they had not authorized the vaccine doses to be imported, certain laws might have been violated. A separate investigation will be made, they said.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines said those who are responsible for the PSG immunizations could be accountable for violating the Food and Drug Administration Act, which "prohibits the manufacture, importation, exportation, sale and distribution of any health product that is adulterated, unregistered or misbranded."
Akbayan Partylist, a left-wing group of legislators, denounced what it called "VIP treatment" when local governments were struggling to get the money to combat the virus.