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VIP preference all over again? From testing in 2020, VIPs now getting COVID jabs before frontliners

Priority list be damned, it seems VIPs are still at the top of the pecking order—regardless if they are fighting in the frontlines against COVID-19 or not.

People are still confused as to who should get the first shots of COVID-19 vaccine as rumors of another round of COVID-related VIP treatments have surfaced.

No less than President Rodrigo Duterte’s Special Envoy to China and radio show host Ramon Tulfo, Jr admitted to getting shots of COVID-19 last October 2020.

This puts him in the same group of people that were given early shots of Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine, a list which includes members of the Presidential Security Group, still-unnamed cabinet officials, and Tulfo’s bodyguards and drivers.

Lately, the Department of National Defense has also announced that their personnel will be among the first ones to be inoculated for COVID-19–ahead of any of the country’s healthcare workers.

Netizens are understandably upset, as it appears the administration’s preference for VIPs has not disappeared since the start of the pandemic.

Mon Tulfo to blame? Probably

Tulfo recently admitted in an interview with anchors of One News’s The Chiefs that he wasn’t just among the first persons to be vaccinated for COVID-19–he was also the one who facilitated the whole deal.

He cites his age (74 years old) and his desire to be a Sinopharm distributor as his reasons for being a part of the group that became guinea pigs for Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Netizens were both perplexed and angry at Tulfo as soon as his story went on air.

What bothered netizens, though, is that Tulfo was passing off his mistake as a necessary evil—akin to VIPs who got tested for COVID-19 ahead of everyone else.

Even the World Health Organization insists on prioritizing healthcare workers for COVID-19 shots, yet Filipino VIPs—particularly government officials—seem to think they are more important than those from the health sector.

Kabataan partylist Rep. Sarah Elago perhaps worded netizens’ frustrations the best.

For its part, the Food and Drug Administration has said they have already looked into the early, unapproved vaccination drive on December 29, but said probe has yet to yield any results.

To date, no one has been held accountable not just for the illegal vaccination, but for the suspected smuggling of Sinopharm shots that made it happen.

Some lawmakers, however, were not satisfied with FDA’s probe.

Bayan Muna Representatives Carlos Zarate and Ferdinand Gaite called on fellow lawmakers to conduct a probe into the VIP vaccinations that happened in October 2020, reviving a resolution they filed back in January 2021.

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