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The vaccine fiasco

It does seem that the sins of former President Benigno Aquino III are making themselves known.

First it was that infamous massacre of 44 members of the Special Action Force in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. BS Aquino made his friend, then-suspended police chief Alan Purisima, in charge of Oplan Exodus, aimed at neutralizing two alleged terrorists.

The massacre happened because the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces did not do what was expected of him—get the military to provide assistance to the beleaguered SAF. To me, that is treason of the highest order. Former President Aquino decided military aid to the SAF would endanger the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Now the worst of the sins of BS Aquino and his administration—the P3.5-billion fiasco involving the Dengvaxia vaccine of Sanofi Pasteur—has been exposed.

This was negotiated by Aquino because he met Sanofi representatives in Paris not once, but twice.

Later on, the vaccine program was implemented by Health Secretary Janet Garin supposed to arrest the dengue epidemic in most parts of the country.

Now it turns out that the Word Health Organization did not certify it, and now Health Secretary Francisco Duque has no choice but to suspend the DoH project.

Sanofi Pasteur admitted that the vaccine is not safe for children who did not have a dengue past. My gulay, what Aquino and Garin did was criminal! They could both be criminally liable!

Expectedly, congressional investigations are coming, and Secretary of Justice Vitaliano Aguirre II has the National Bureau of Investigation looking into the matter to determine who is responsible and accountable for the mess.

I say the NBI need not look far. The facts are clear: Aquino negotiated the deal while he was in France, and his health secretary, Garin, implemented it.

The worst part is that more than 700,000 children were affected, and some adults as well. Sanofi Pasteur thought we were like rats to experiment on!

The Volunteers for Crime and Corruption claims there are already three deaths as a result of the vaccine. Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Blue Ribbon Committee, has already scheduled hearings on this.

Now comes Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque playing down the impact of Dengvaxia and telling us we should not panic. Is he a doctor?

The local representatives of Sanofi Pasteur are clearly panicking at the idea that Filipinos were used as guinea pigs for an untested vaccine. Santa Banana, were Aquino and Garin just trying to impress on us that they were doing something for public health.

It is all for these reasons that Aquino, not only Garin, and everybody else involved in the project must be made to explain. What was in it for them?

The concern now of the Duterte administration is keeping track of the 733,000 children who have been given the vaccine. It can create panic! Local government units should be made to handle the monitoring.

And, for heaven’s sake, Roque must be told to stop defending Sanofi and that deaths would not occur. Only health experts can say that.

I am not buying the explanation of the local branches of Sanofi that the all studies in connection with Dengvaxia were completed, not just in the Philippines but in other countries as well.

Why would President Duterte now suspend the immunization program if it did not pose risks on us Filipinos?

For those Sanofi representatives to claim that there have been no deaths highlights the need for an investigation.

***

Commuters and motorists have to suffer a daily nightmare on Edsa. Now we hear that the Boston Consulting Group said road congestion in Metro Manila may reach standstill levels by 2022.

The study was commissioned by Uber, a transport network vehicle company in the wake of government plans to increase the capacity of rail-based public transport facilities and services.

Thus, the survey of mega-cities like Metro Manila, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi and Surabaya—considered Tier 3 cities—were at risk of reaching standstill levels of congestion during peak hours by 2022 “because of the rate of vehicle growth.”

“Tier 3 cities have ambitious plans to expand transport networks. However, roll out will require considerable time and fund,” the study said.

The Department of Transportation would do well to take note of this fact: In 2016, there were more than 2.4-million vehicles registered in Metro Manila, of which 1.5 million were private cars. As of October this years, vehicle sales have grown by 16 percent.

All these boil down to one thing—the need for a good public transport system.

***

I did not commit a mistake when I said that the usual bazaars that go with the season have ceased because people just go to the malls. We can now buy anything we need at malls.

I know all these because my wife and my daughter take me with them when they go shopping. It gives me the exercise I need.

Topics: The vaccine fiasco

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