By Deighton Acuin

PHOTO: Rappler

The priority list formed by the government for coronavirus vaccination rollout will be followed, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Monday.

During a House hearing, ACT Teachers Partylist Representative France Castro asked for assurance from the health chief that VIP vaccinations already stopped.

“Yes, madame chair, your honor. We will do our level best to ensure that the prioritization formula is followed. Sundan po natin 'yung prioritization program,” he said.

The Department of Health (DOH) issued the list of priority citizens for vaccine rollout last December, with senior citizens, indigent citizens, and uniformed personnel are on top of the list.

The same month, President Rodrigo Duterte claimed that some military personnel already acquired vaccines from Sinopharm, a Chinese pharmaceutical company.

The Presidential Security Group (PSG) admitted getting vaccine doses on their own, receiving unregistered vaccines for free from a donor that they refused to reveal.

Agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Bureau of Customs (BOC), and the National Bureau Investigation (NBI) have been probing the PSG vaccination.

FDA Director General Eric Domingo said that the investigation is still ongoing and that there is no initial report yet.
“Hanggang ngayon, nag-i-investigate po tayo ngayon kasama po ng team ng FDA, tapos po yung BOC, tsaka po yung NBI. Naggawa na po kami ng composite team,” Domingo said.

“They are following on leads. Nagsulat na rin po kami sa several po na mga possible importers at tsini-check na po ‘yung warehouses ng mga nag-iimport ng gamot in the last few months,” Domingo added.

Earlier, Senate President Vicente Sotto III bared in a radio interview that Senator Panfilo Lacson and House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez received vaccine shots even there are no vaccines approved in the country yet.

Neither lawmaker has confirmed or denied the claim, but Lacson later on hinted that it might only be a joke.

Last year, the government was also criticized for alleged "VIP testing," with officials and other prominent figures getting tested ahead of the general public and receiving their results ahead as well.