The trauma of the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine has caused the government the public’s trust to its other vaccination programs.
Measles cases in the country soared by more than 300% last year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
This was because of the public’s fear of having the same fate as the alleged Dengvaxia vaccinees whose death remain uncertain to this day, according to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
“There is a significant drop in the confidence of our people in the immunization program of the DOH from 92% to measly 33%. Ang laki ng bagsak talaga,” Duque said.
It was a “lesson learned the hard way”, the DOH said, referring to the impact of the Dengvaxia controversy.
That’s why the agency wants to change how the public views of the agency.
A hearing on the controversial dengue vaccine
“Kung mag-i-introduce ka ng new health program, mag-i-introduce ka ng bagong bakuna, bagong intervenyion kailangan talaga pag- aralan mo. Kailangan kompleto talaga ang iyong ebidensya. Kailangan alam mo ang magiging resulta. You have to communicate it properly doon sa mga recipients, kailangan naitindinhan din ng recipients kung ano iyong tinatanggap nila,” explained Health Spokesperson Undersecretary Eric Domingo.
But aside from the health concerns, the government also faced challenges in security this year.
President Rodrigo Duterte once again requested Congress to extend the declaration of Martial Law in the province of Mindanao for another year or until December 31, 2019.
FILE PHOTO: Marawi City ruins (UNTV News)
According to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, the extension is needed as terrorist groups like Abu Sayyaf, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF), Daulah Islamiya and other terrorist groups sowing fear in the region.
“We cannot turn a blind eye to the reality that Mindanao is still in the midst of rebellion,” Medialdea said.
Several lawmakers opposed the proposal but later on, martial law was extended for the third time in Mindanao since it was declared on May 2017 when the Maute terror group conquered Marawi City.
The communist New People’s Army (NPA) also remains a challenge to the Philippine government.
FILE PHOTO: New People’s Army in formation
The military revealed an alleged ‘Red October’ plot, an oust-Duterte movement allegedly formed by the communist rebels backed by opposition groups.The two groups denied the allegations but according to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), they have recovered documents in some encounters with NPA proving that they were plotting a destabilization against the government.
Meanwhile, the government did not declare a ceasefire this year even after the communist group announced their declaration of a unilateral ceasefire.
According to the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) they did not recommend to reciprocate the communists’ ceasefire declaration because leftists were not sincere of their intention and they would just use the ceasefire to strengthen their arms.
Meanwhile, a resolution was submitted to Congress calling the President to revive the peace negotiations with the Reds.
But the President remained cold towards the proposed resumption of peace talks.
Instead, he said he preferred to create a hit squad to match the NPA’s sparrow unit.
“So mag-create ako ng sparrow (unit), Duterte death squad against the sparrow,” the President said.
In December, the President issued Executive Order 70 which created a National Task Force tasked to eliminate the rebel group.
This, despite the continuous surrender of NPA members in different parts of the country through the efforts of military on localized peace talks. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Aiko Miguel)