PROSPERIDAD, Agusan del Sur (MindaNews / 13 June) – Gov. Santiago Cane Jr. has warned that those attending the Naliyagan Festival 2022 using fake vaccination cards to gain entrance to events will be put to jail.
Cane told reporters at the press conference at the opening on Sunday of the week-long festivities that he received intelligence reports that some unscrupulous peddlers in neighboring San Francisco town are selling fake COVID-19 vaccination cards to unvaccinated tricycle drivers to gain entry inside the venue of the event.
The yearly Naliyagan Festival resumed after two years of hiatus due to the pandemic but now with the observance of strict health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The official policy requires festival-goers to present proof of complete vaccination and a valid identification card for counter-checking, or they will not be allowed entry.
The festival is the biggest crowd-drawing event in the province, and local leaders are using it as an opportunity to expand COVID-19 vaccination coverage further.
Cane said fake copies of the Department of Health’s vaccination cards are being sold by scammers from P1,500 to P2,500.
Col. Jovito Canlapan, acting provincial police director, said they tried to entrap the suspects selling bogus cards, but it seems the scammers sensed the pending operation and escaped before the raid could be launched.
Under the Revised Penal Code and Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases Law, persons caught falsifying, tampering, or using fake vaccination cards shall face penalties which include a P20,000 to P50,000 fine or imprisonment of one to six months, or both.
Public officers and employees or licensed professionals committing such criminal acts will be meted a higher penalty. An administrative case will be filed with the Civil Service Commission (CSC) or Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) for the revocation or suspension of their license or eligibility.
Cane said aside from police and personnel, nurses and doctors will also be deployed at the entrance gates to offer the injection of the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for those who are only partially vaccinated.
After getting their vaccine shots, these festival-goers can be allowed to get inside the venue.
Cane explained that strict measures are needed to prevent new COVID-19 infections as the province is still under the alert level 2 category owing to the failure to achieve a vaccination coverage equivalent to 70% of the local eligible population.
Festival organizers are ensuring health protocols, like wearing face masks and frequently washing hands with alcohol or with soap and water. (Chris V. Panganiban / MindaNews