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)
Hot pursuit operation launched vs. abductors of gov’t troopers in Agusan Del Sur
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana
QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Thursday (December 20) confirmed that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) already launched a hot pursuit operation against the abductors of government troopers in Agusan Del Sur.
“Mayroong pursuit operations nang ginagawa ang ating tropa. I think OPPAP, si Gen. Galvez is on top of this also,” he said.
Two soldiers and 12 members of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) were held hostages by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Barangay New Tubigon, Sibagat, Agusan De Sur on Wednesday (December 19).
Lorenzana believes the NPA terrorists are planning to use their captives as shields against the ongoing military offensives in their area.
But the Defense secretary said the military will not stop until the rebels are neutralized and the captives are safely rescued.
“Gagamitin nilang leverage iyan to stop the operation from military sa area nila. But we will not stop. The soldiers and the CAFGU know that they are at war with these people,” Lorenzana said.
Meanwhile, Philippine Army 4ID Commander MGen. Ronald Villanueva earlier confirmed that a board of inquiry has been created and investigation is underway on the recent attack by the NPA rebels at the Army Detachment in Sibagat.
Aside from the 14 hostages, the rebels have taken 24 high-powered firearms from the military during the incident. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Lea Ylagan)
Makabayan bloc to question martial extension before SC
Lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc
QUEZON CITY, Philippines — Lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc plan to elevate to the Supreme Court the third extension of martial law in Mindanao which Congress approved on Wednesday.
The group said the government and concerned agencies failed to prove there is on-going rebellion in the region that would warrant a yearlong extension of martial law.
“We will definitely still maximize an arena where we can present our case,” said Anakpawis partylist representative, Ariel Casilao. — Grace Casin | UNTV News & Rescue
Progressive groups in Davao, Butuan slam martial law extension in Mindanao
Some progressive groups in Mindanao have denounced Congress’ move to approve the request of President Rodrigo Duterte to extend the implementation of martial law in the region for the third time.
According to Carlo Olalo of Kilusang Mayo Uno Southern Mindanao chapter, extending martial law will not stop atrocities but will only further embolden state forces to suppress and oppress the masses.
Olalo said that in Compostella Valley alone, there are more than 100 cases of political killings since the implementation of martial law in May 2017.
Olalo believes that imposing military rule will not help in addressing security threats in Mindanao.
“Ang kining martial law sa Mindanao dili para sa pagdepensa sa security sa katawhang Pilipino kung dili mas gipundar kini kay tungod gusting protektahan ang mga agreements nga musulod diri sa Mindanao. Ilabinanga naay Build Build Build program ni Pres. Rodrigo Duterte nga gipondohan sa Chinese government,” Olalo said.
(The martial law in Mindanao is not meant to protect the Filipino people but to protect the agreements that will enter Mindanao. Among these is the Build Build Build program of President Rodrigo Duterte which is being funded by the Chinese government.)
The KMU-Southern Mindanao chapter also claims that implementing martial law in Mindanao is Duterte’s way of putting his plans into gradual action, such as his proposal to shift into a federal form of government.
Jay-R Aypag of Karapatan-Southern Mindanao also claims that cases of human rights violations in the region have soared since the imposition of martial law. Aypag also slammed the move to close down community schools for Lumads, especially in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.
“Ang pinaka recent na hinahawakan naming ngayon ay yung mismong pagpapalayas at pagpapasara ng Lumad schools sa Talaingod. In fact, ito yung pinaka common narratives sa mga Lumad at peasant na talagang nagkakampo sa kanilang mga komunidad na wala silang karapatan dahil mayroong martial law declaration sa isla ng Mindanao,” added Aypag.
Isaias Geñorga, a representative of the group PISTON-Caraga, fears that the government will only use martial law to silence its critics.
“Ang critic sa mga progrisibo, dili gusto rehiming Duterte ni ini, suko siya ni ini, ang unsa man nai critic nimu sa rehiming Duterte…..unsa mabdiay gusto ipasabot? Ang gusto badiay ipasabot nga ang tanan niya nagginahimu ang tanan niyang ginaplano sakto? Pasalamat ngani sya adunay mga kritiko,”Geñorga said.
(The Duterte regime hates to hear the criticisms of progressive groups. What is he trying to say? That everything he does and all his plans are always right? He should be grateful he has critics!)
The left-leaning groups believe that martial law is not the answer to the growing security problems in Mindanao and that the president should just focus on addressing the country’s pressing problems such as providing quality education, high unemployment rate and food sufficiency. — UNTV News & Rescue