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Prosecutor clears 2 suspects in vaccine slots for sale

Emmanuel Tupas - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines —  The Mandaluyong prosecutor’s office has dismissed the criminal charges filed against two persons over the sale of COVID vaccine slots in the city in 2021.

In a five-page resolution obtained by The STAR yesterday, Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Roger Marvin Martin junked the charges of estafa, violation of Republic Act 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business Act and Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act against Cyle Cedrick Bonifacio and Melvin Gutierrez for lack of probable cause.

In June 2021, police filed the complaints against Bonifacio and Gutierrez after they were implicated in the sale of vaccine slots in Mandaluyong for P8,000 to P12,000 depending on the brand.

There was a limited supply of COVID vaccines when the alleged scheme happened.

The prosecutor said Bonifacio and Gutierrez could not be held liable for estafa as no deal was consummated between the respondents and the person who inquired about the vaccine slots.

“The other party did not suffer damages. Further, conspiracy was not clearly established in this instant case,” the resolution read.

The suspects did not violate the Ease of Doing Business Law as it was not ascertained that Bonifacio was a fixer who acted in conspiracy with Gutierrez, according to the prosecutor.

“What was assumed is that respondent Bonifacio was selling a vaccination slot. This remains as an allegation without sufficient proof,” Martin said.

Since there was no probable cause for estafa, the complaint against Bonifacio and Gutierrez for violating cybercrime laws “has no leg to stand on,” according to the prosecutor.

The alleged modus operandi surfaced at a time when people were scrambling to get vaccinated due to a limited supply of COVID jabs purchased by the government.

The Mandaluyong government has denied that any of its employees were involved in the scam.             

COVID-19

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