A suspect in the alleged illegal sale of COVID-19 vaccines in Mandaluyong City has voluntarily surrendered after authorities launched a probe, but he denies benefitting from the supposed scheme.
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Benhur Abalos and wife Mandaluyong Mayor Menchie Abalos presented the suspect Kyle Bonifacio during a press conference on Wednesday.
Bonifacio, who is the son of a barangay councilor, said he is “confident” of his innocence, adding that he only showed himself to the public to “put an end to the issue.”
“First and foremost po, wala po akong koneksyon sa LGU dahil isa lang po akong batang estudyante [I have no connection to the LGU, because I’m only a young student],” he said.
Before the surrender, Mandaluyong Police Chief Gauvin Mel Unos said they had already been tracking Bonifacio after his name surfaced in relation to a viral social media post, which claimed that vaccine access was being offered for a price through the city government’s immunization program.
“Gusto ko lang po sabihin na hindi po talaga ako nagbenta, at ‘yung resibo po na ‘yun ay kusang bigay po sa akin ‘nung taong ‘yun [I just want to say I wasn’t the seller, and the receipt was given to me voluntarily by that person],” Bonifacio added.
However, he refused to provide more details when asked to clarify about the individual or receipt he was referring to.
Still, while keeping mum for the most part, Bonifacio said his father has nothing to do with the scheme.
“Ako lamang po ang involved dito at wala ng ibang tao [I’m the only one involved here and no one else],” he said.
Mayor Abalos also said the suspect’s father had no idea about his son’s alleged involvement until police approached him regarding the matter. She also revealed it was the father who personally called her and initiated the surrender.
What are the next steps?
Unos said they are now also “closing in” on other individuals suspected to be involved in the scheme.
“Of course, with the exploitation of the social media, kasi titignan po natin din kung ano ‘yung naging conversation nila doon to identify also the other personalities kung sakali mang hindi mabanggit ng ating primary suspect,” he said.
[Translation: Of course with the exploitation of social media, because we’re going to look at their conversation to identify other personalities in case the primary suspect doesn’t mention their names.]
According to MMDA chief Abalos, Bonifacio will be turned over to police for further questioning. An investigation report would probably be released by tomorrow, he added.
If Bonifacio is found to have violated laws, appropriate charges will be filed against the suspect, Abalos assured. He said this could be estafa, bribery, or violation of the Bayanihan to Act as One Law.
Officials have repeatedly warned against those who will sell or purchase vaccines or vaccination slots, reiterating that inoculation against COVID-19 in the Philippines should be free for everyone.