No ‘genocide’ intended: Filipinos need to get a grip over the Dengvaxia debacle

What really first needs to be stopped is all the panicky statements being released about the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia. There was no intent to perpetrate “genocide” even if the circumstances surrounding its procurement and approval for public dispensation in 2016 by the Department of Health (DOH) under then President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III are a bit suspect.

To put some perspective around the more than 700,000 kids Dengvaxia was administered to (and, supposedly put “at risk” of death), an estimated 3 million Filipino children are engaged in illegal work where they are exposed to health and safety risks as well as emotional and physical abuse from employers. This is due to the continued prevalence of trafficking in underaged domestic and sex workers from the Philippines’ rural areas as well as forced labour in plantations and mines.

Whereas the small possibility that the procurement of Dengvaxia — even under the suspicious circumstances surrounding the transaction — was motivated by generally good intentions is not an unreasonable argument, one will be hard-pressed to justify multiple Filipino governments allowing 3 million children to work under deplorable conditions for generations. In short, there was no intent in procuring Dengvaxia that could be any more “evil” or “genocidal” than, say, tolerating exploitation of 3 million kids by illegal employers right under the holy radars of mainstream media and even that of some of the noisier partisan bloggers involved in today’s “debate”.

People need to get a grip on themselves. According to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, “no cases of ‘severe dengue infection’ have been reported yet out of [at] least 700,000 Filipino children who were given the vaccine.” Malacanang spokesman Harry Roque, for his part, called on the public “not to spread information that may cause undue alarm”.

That said, the real focus should be on how the programme to procure and administer the vaccine, which reportedly cost a “whopping” 3.5 billion pesos was funded. Back in December 2016, Senator Richard Gordon pointed out that procurement of the Dengvaxia vaccine by the DOH was not done using Congress-appropriated funds. Gordon went further to liken the method of funding of the project to the notorious Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) of the Aquino government where “budget savings” were used to fast track the funding of “priority” initiatives.

Indeed, there may be cause to question why Aquino would prioritise the Dengvaxia initiative considering there are less-risky and more straightforward solutions to problems that affect far more Filipinos — like those 3 million child labourers, for example. Gordon puts forth the same argument…

Gordon said he was also baffled why the dengue vaccine was given priority when only 250 people died from the disease in a year and over 200,000 people afflicted.

“Should it come first?” Gordon asked.

“There’s a much bigger budget for the dengue vaccine, but we still fail in the Millennium Development Goals,” he added.

He also said the P3.5 billion spent on the dengue vaccine was the same as the amount spent on the expanded immunization program that covered seven ailments, including pneumonia and cervical cancer.

Although he was not assigning any malice, Gordon said the circumstances surrounding the procurement were suspicious “from top to bottom.”

It would take Manila Times columnist Bobi Tiglao to delve into the possibility of “malice” on the part of Aquino.

Aquino had demonstrated extraordinary interest in the health department’s purchase of the Dengvaxia vaccine: It was the second time he met with the Sanofi officials.

He found time during the hectic APEC meeting in Beijing, China to meet with Sanofi officials, headed by the firm’s senior vice president for Asia Jean-luc Lowinski on Nov 9, 2014. The Sanofi officials were the only businessmen Aquino met with in Beijing. A press release by the Presidential Broadcast Staff reported at that time that Aquino discussed “Sanofi’s progress in developing a dengue vaccine for affected towns in the Philippines.”

There is enough reason to speculate on the “baffling” urgency applied by the Aquino government towards getting into bed with Sanofi — even to the point of putting hundreds of thousands of Filipino children at risk. This may not be a case of genocide — just plain old garden-variety greed and big-bucks national politics with no attention paid to risk of collateral damage.

The trouble with partisan “activism” over social or mainstream media is that fundamental issues are missed. In this case, 700,000-plus kids put at risk by a possibly greed-motivated rush to procure Dengvaxia cannot be any different to decades of tolerating, say, 3 million kids child labourers. Again, common denominators are at work here. It always comes down to business between Filipinos’ politicians and oligarchs and corporate executives eager to make a sale. No need for shrill panic as there is nothing new to see here.

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12 Comments on “No ‘genocide’ intended: Filipinos need to get a grip over the Dengvaxia debacle”

  1. It’s called eugenics, part of Agenda 21. Call me a conspiracy theorist etc., but these bad vaccines have been used in other parts of 3rd world areas for years.

    1. Eugenics my ass. Million of Filipinos are alive today because of “bad vaccines”. It’s one of the reasons the country’s population has exploded in the last few decades: zero contraception + promiscuity + appalling public hygiene and nutrition = many childhood deaths. Vaccines are what stops the children of the dirt-poor from dying. Which, if you want to put a conspiracy-theory label on it, is dysgenics.

  2. genocide intent or not, the realities of kids being exposed to other health risks due to poverty situation is beside the point here. that is not the issue. the issue is the scandalous procurement of the dengvaxia vaccine by the abnoy adminstration.

  3. Good points benign0. Personally, I don’t think it’s a good idea to roll out a genetically-engineered vaccine that has had minimal testing. On the other hand, I’m quite prepared to believe that the primary motivation behind spending a lot of tax money on a project of dubious benefit for <1% of the population was the usual one: skimming some cream off the top.

    Dengue is not a very nice illness, but as you correctly point out it's pretty low on the list of risks that Filipinos are exposed to, and many of those could be corrected either for free or with much less expenditure.

    As per my rants elsewhere, third-world countries need to focus on getting the maximum benefit for the least amount of money, and there's a LOT of low-hanging fruit. Spending the way rich countries spend is simply not an option.

    1. The panic and shrill “debate” around Dengvaxia is just one example of how systemic issues are missed and opportunities to solve them systemically routinely overlooked simply because those involved in said “debate” are too focused on personalities.

      COMELEC spox and Tweetizen James Jimenez highlighted the the now-prevalent and fallacious debate style called “what aboutism” which…

      …involves charging your accuser with whatever it is you’ve just been accused of rather than refuting the truth of the accusation made against you. Tu quoque is considered to be a logical fallacy, because whether or not the original accuser is likewise guilty of an offense has no bearing on the truth value of the original accusation.

      So rather than the discussion moving forward, the participants are stalemated in a cycle of finger-pointing. No ideas or conceptual foundations are laid to build upon progressively.

  4. Aquino was very much eager to meet with the Sanofi executives, for the purchase of the Dengvaxia vaccine, because there was a : “Cash-sunduan” , between Aquino and the Sanofi French officials.

    The fund is there, that is, the DAP fund , waiting to be stolen by Aquino and the Sanofi officials. I think the vaccine was untested, and overpriced. The 700,000 Filipino children , became the “test animals” , for the vaccine; to determine, if it worked or not. Laboratory testers use: monkeys, rats, rabbits, birds, etc…to test, if their medicines work or not. Aquino and the Sanofi officials used, 700,000 Filipino children, for the test.

    I wonder, what else is yet to be uncovered, that is really horrifying that the Aquino administration had done, during their term of office, in the name of Greed !

  5. Those Sonofi officials, decided to cut cost, in the testing of their Dengvaxia vaccine. Maybe, testing them on Guinea Pigs, cost a lot. So, Aquino and the Sonofi officials, agreed to make the 700,000 Filipino children, as “Guinea Pigs”. This gave more money to Aquino in their , “Cash-sunduan”…what a country we have !

  6. There’s no genocide, but there’s also no one taking personal responsibility either, the Yellows like Jim Paredes are blaming the current administration than the last one who made a 3-week decision to buy the vaccines and let all the media know it, Noynoy and his cronies in the Government and DOH did nothing wrong. You got them side-stepping the issues and calling it a non-issue, partisan selective bias and zero accountability. Hope the investigation is done well, and we’ll see the very same media that celebrated Noynoy wasting 3.5 billion pesos on “WHO-Approved” Dengvaxia will report on this, so far it’s just damage control and minimizing the issue, and finally absolving the their favorite mythic savior.

    1. What the hell are these guys thinking? There’s no reason to blame the current administration because the Dengvaxia was approved during Noynoy’s administration.

  7. No there’s no “genocide” alright that committed by ABnoy and the people of Sanofi Pasteur but there was a COVER UP on this #Denggate or Dengvaxia scam & it’s happening right now!!!

    Just read these 3 blogs that created by RJ Nieto, the author of ThinkingPinoy to prove it (and please share his blogs to others so that the Filipino people will finally wake up the truth to this incident):

    1) Link
    2) Link
    3) Link

  8. Heinlein’s Law: Never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity. But here, Singapore and Thailand also approved the vaccine. Show concrete proof there was some graft, and not just speculation and innuendo. Also, there needs to be a good assessment of the risk, and, if possible, who’s not at risk and who is. There is no need to panic, because if it was a serious problem there would already be reports of many vaccinated kids getting severe Dengue. Let’s proceed with due caution.

  9. Greed, envy, sloth, pride and gluttony: these are not vices anymore. No, these are marketing tools. Lust is our way of life. Envy is just a nudge towards another sale. Even in our relationships we consume each other, each of us looking for what we can get out of the other. Our appetites are often satisfied at the expense of those around us. In a dog-eat-dog world we lose part of our humanity.

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