REPASO 2018: Dengvaxia scare, communist terrorism and the Martial Law

Marje Pelayo   •   January 1, 2019   •   2000

 

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.

IMAGE_UNTV_NEWS_110117_Marawi City

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)

Robredo honors all freedom fighters during Marcos era on Ninoy Aquino Day

Robie de Guzman   •   August 21, 2019

Vice President Leni Robredo

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo on Wednesday honored the sacrifices of the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, and all Filipinos like him who fought against dictatorship and for the restoration of freedom in the country.

In a message to mark Ninoy’s 36th death anniversary, Robredo recalled how Ninoy’s death had inspired a movement that brought down the “rapacious” regime of then President Ferdinand Marcos.

“Every Filipino alive at that time remembers where they were when Ninoy fell. It was the defining moment for an entire generation: a moment that would inspire a movement that would ultimately bring down the dictator three years later, and bring about a restoration of the freedom Ninoy had given up his life and liberty fighting for,” Robredo said.

The vice president also pointed out that Ninoy was not the only one who made the ultimate sacrifice for the country’s freedom.

“Thousands of Filipinos fell during the dark years of dictatorship, resisting till their last breath the cruelty and corruption it brought. Thousands more were estranged from their families, were thrown into prison, were subjected to brutality and humiliation. Many of them remain nameless and unheralded in our memorials and history books,” she said.

“So, when we celebrate the 21st of August, it is not just Ninoy Aquino we remember, but all those like him, both the nameless and the heralded, who gave of themselves so that we could be free,” she added.

“In this remembrance, we express both our deepest gratitude for the sacrifices made on our behalf, and, perhaps more significantly, our persistent commitment to defend the freedom they won back for us.”

Robredo also lambasted those who “dismiss the significance of Ninoy’s sacrifice,” or “question the validity of the movement it inspired,” and those who are pushing a revised version of history, claiming that the Marcos regime “was not so bad after all.”

“The simple truth is, Ninoy Aquino was a Filipino who gave his life for his country. His love for his homeland was seen not in easy talk or slick PR stunts, but instead blazed brightly through long years of imprisonment, of exile, and in the end, of martyrdom,” she said.

“Many talk about being willing to die for our country. Ninoy was one of the courageous few who actually did,” she added.

Ninoy, a staunch critic of the Marcos government, was assassinated upon his return from a three-year exile in the United States on August 21, 1983. He was shot and killed at he was shot and killed at the then Manila International Airport (now named after him) as he was escorted off the airplane.

Ninoy’s death led to protests that sparked snap presidential elections in 1986, which led to the 1986 EDSA Revolution that catapulted his wife, Cory Aquino to presidency.

Duterte tells gov’t workers to be like Ninoy Aquino; serve with honor, integrity

Robie de Guzman   •   August 21, 2019

Ninoy Aquino | By president.gov.ph

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday hailed the sacrifice and the important role that the late former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. played in restoring the country’s democracy as the nation marks his 36th death anniversary.

In his message, Duterte said Aquino’s sacrifice altered the course of the nation’s history and still continues to ignite the spirt of heroism among Filipinos.

“Today, we remember Benigno S. Aquino Jr. and his important role in restoring our democratic institutions more than three decades ago. His sacrifice altered the course of our nation’s history and still continues to ignite the spirit of heroism among our people,” he said.

Aquino was a well-known opposition figure and a staunch critic of the then-President Ferdinand Marcos.

He was imprisoned for his beliefs during the Martial Law before he and his family moved to the United States in 1980 to seek medical treatment which eventually led to his self-imposed exile for three years.

Upon returning to the Philippines on August 21, 1983, he was shot and killed at the then Manila International Airport (now named after him) as he was escorted off the airplane.

Ninoy’s death led to protests that sparked snap presidential elections in 1986, which led to the 1986 EDSA Revolution that catapulted his wife, Cory Aquino to presidency.

Duterte also expressed hope that this “auspicious occasion” may remind us of what we had lost “so that we may remain committed to our solemn duty to safeguard the freedoms that we now enjoy.”

“I also hope that Ninoy’s remarkable life as a public servant will move my fellow government workers to serve with honor, integrity and purpose as well as inspire our youth to be of service to their country and fellowmen,” he added.

Duterte also acknowledged that even halfway into his six-year term, there is still much that has to be done to eradicate the problems that plagued the country even during Ninoy’s time.

“Despite our gains in these past three years, there is still a lot that needs to be done if we are to completely eradicate the poverty, corruption and injustice that had plagued our nation even during Ninoy’s time,” he said.

“Let his example guide us as we strive to uplift and protect the most vulnerable in our society and ensure that all Filipinos will enjoy the blessings of freedom, democracy and the rule of law,” he added.

Sanofi Pasteur optimistic Dengvaxia will be restored in PH market

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 15, 2019

French Pharmaceutical firm, Sanofi Pasteur expressed optimism that the Dengvaxia vaccine will be restored in the Philippine market.

In a statement, Sanofi Pasteur Philippines General Manager Jean Antoine Zinsou said they are open for a discussion with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Health (DOH).

He also clarified that Dengvaxia is safe and effective to use.

According to Zinsou, the said vaccine was only banned in the Philippines because of incomplete documents or due to “administrative consideration.”

“We definitely need to settle this issue. One way to do it is to discuss with FDA and see what is needed to have this revocation lifted,” he said.

Zinsou also said Dengvaxia is registered in 20 countries across the globe and is acknowledged by the United States Food Drug Administration and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Meanwhile, Sanofi agrees with the DOH that Dengvaxia is not a solution to the Dengue epidemic in the country.

READ: Dengvaxia won’t bring dengue cases down – DOH

“The vaccines that we are mentioning is not a solution or a silver bullet for the ongoing outbreak. We are open to any discussion with the health authorities to see what is needed, what do they need for the future,” Zinsou said.

In February this year, the FDA revoked the certificate of product registration of Dengvaxia.

Sanofi already filed an appeal two weeks ago and the DOH will release their decision on the issue on August 19.—AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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