‘Eh buhay ka pa naman…’
HOW can one ever forget the horrible scene of death and destruction in Tacloban when typhoon Yolanda slammed that coastal city? How can one just simply dismiss how government officials wantonly allocate among themselves the billions of pesos from foreign aids and emergency funds and leaving the dead and the hungry walking the path of desolation like zombies.
The stink of the dead polluted along with the putrid smell of decaying canned and other food items that were unearthed. Millions worth of goods were discovered buried by the government welfare agency because it was too burdensome to distribute them to the surviving but starving victims of the scourge of Yolanda. What a despicable act of apathy.
Four years had elapsed since the November 8, 2013 most deadliest and extremely powerful typhoon that hit the country, but the images and barefaced corruption committed by officials in charge of search, rescue and rehabilitation remained ensconced in the memory of a helpless nation. Neither the tragedy nor the larceny cannot just pass into the catacombs of forgetfulness as these ruthlessly damaged Leyte and every modicum of decency.
But that is not the unkindest cut that shook us all. Amidst the hopelessness and looting, a businessman, Kenneth Uy, who helped stave off hunger and the pain of those who lost their love ones, made the mistake of relating to then Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino III that he was shot at while trying to buy gasoline for the generators in his hotel, which he offered to rescue volunteers, as their headquarters. Instead of getting a sympathetic remarks what he got was an abrasive and impassive reply: “Eh buhay ka pa naman, di ba (You are still alive, right?),” Aquino barked at Uy.
Such insensitivity is resurrected in the nation’s consciousness when late last week the alarm about the dengvaxia vaccine was issued by the World Health Organization and health authorities. It hit us like a thunderbolt since over 700,000 young school children were reported to have been vaccinated. It reported that those who have not had dengue fever are likely to suffer severe attack if they get dengue after they are inoculated. Of course the kneejerk response of the Aquino publicist was that 90 percent of those who were injected with dengvaxia had had dengue.
As they say, the fish is caught by its mouth. No one will ever believe the claim of Aquino’s defense ward that 90 percent of the school children from the regions where the immunization program was carried out. The parents of the kids know better than the story teller of Aquino’s health officials. The educated guess is that those who had had dengue could even be less than 10 percent.
Things are getting us more curious and the imbroglio is getting closer and closer to Aquino himself. From the accounts that surfaced recently, the former President himself met with the officials of Sanofi, the drug company that made dengvaxia, and that there was an unusual hurry of buying the vaccine despite the fact that it is still undergoing test. As a drug undergoing test and evaluation, the Aquino administration bought it at an exorbitant P3-billion plus and because DOH did not have funds for it, the Budget Management was ordered to source out the funds from elsewhere.
Why the hurry despite the many uncertainties surrounding the drug is really mind-boggling. Some quarters theorized that election was coming and they have to build a huge war chest. That is speculative.
reasons there might be, is not good enough to make our children the guinea pigs for an experimental drug called dengvaxia. Two things should be done. The National Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Health must look deeper into why our children were offered to be experimented on. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines must file a class suit against Sanofi. We should not take the reason that “buhay pa naman ang mga bata” as an excuse.