MANILA – Four persons, including a former government witness, were arrested and sued by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for selling AstraZeneca vaccination slots to Chinese nationals in Pasay City.
In a statement on Saturday, the NBI said it filed criminal charges against Mary Rose “Rosebud” Ong; her brother, Peter Ong, of Kawit, Cavite; Warlito Dabuet Mabanan of Pasay; and Ferdinand Madrid Mabalo, a village secretary, also in Pasay.
Rosebud had testified in the infamous Kuratong Baleleng rubout case in the mid-1990s against then-Philippine National Police chief and now Senator Panfilo Lacson.
The Ongs and their cohorts were arrested in a sting operation on Friday.
In a six-page referral letter addressed to the Department of Justice, NBI Officer in Charge Eric Distor said they recommended charges of estafa and violations of Republic Act (RA) 11032 (Ease of Doing Business Act) and the anti-graft and corrupt practices act (RA 3019) against the four for “falsely representing that the subjects are responsible officers in the dispensation of vaccinations for a fee and are authorized to receive payments and facilitate vaccinations”.
A complaint had been originally initiated before the Special Action Unit on July 15, 2021 by James Christian Sucgang and Sam Lo, a Chinese national.
Sucgang and Lo said a group, led by a certain Paul, was allegedly selling vaccination slots in Pasay.
They added that they could not get vaccinated since they are not included in the priority groups.
Sucgang said Paul assured he would be able to secure an AstraZeneca vaccination slot in Pasay for PHP7,000.
Paul contacted Sucgang again on July 22 and confirmed that he was able to secure a schedule.
Paul then set up the meeting in multiple vehicles with other Chinese nationals at a predetermined site before they moved as a convoy to the covered court vaccination site in Barangay 190, Pasay.
One of the men who escorted them asked for the pre-agreed sum of PHP63,000 before law enforcers swooped down on them.
The man who received the money was identified as Peter Ong while a female individual who alighted from a red vehicle during the pickup was said to be Mary Rose Ong.
Mabanan also met with the Chinese and took them to the vaccination site while Mabalo assisted during the inoculation process.
By Benjamin Pulta