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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, February 11, 2019
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Donít be afraid of vaccinations

Ninfa Leonardia

Now that it is the government itself that is making vaccination against measles mandatory, I guess parents will have to comply, no matter their reservations about it. But they should remember that for a long time now, measles had been virtually eliminated, and this must have been due to the compulsory vaccination ordered in the years past. It does look as if the immunizations then had worked, so let us not be too distrustful of this new attempt by our medical authorities to try to eliminate the disease again.

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Seems even the House of Representatives has gotten alerted to the dangers after studying the statistics on its casualties lately. Those who continue to be afraid to expose their children to vaccination should recall that measles had been virtually conquered in the past several years, and that must have been due to the fact that vaccination had been made compulsory several years ago. Since then, however, the virus must have found its way back, and it’s time to deal with it again. The reports on the rising number of fatalities from it should make up the minds of parents who are more afraid of the cure than the disease.

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So what now is the age set for criminality in the Philippines? The Senate has failed to pass the measure from the House of Representatives that would set it at 12 years old, and apparently and has no more time to do so before the campaign period for national candidates starts two days from this time of writing, that is, on February 12. So that will continue to be in effect until it opens for business again. The House has set it at 12, but is the Senate inclined to accept that? A lot of civic organizations are still for its retention at 15.

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There is something in the proposed measure that parents may object to. This one says that parents of those children aged 12, but under 18, will be held liable as well, and could get six months to six years in prison! In the meantime, shouldn’t we be guided by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child that has issued a statement that 12 years old is too young to be made the age of criminal liability? The UNCRC statement was posted only on January 8, and let us hope that our own officials decide to adopt.

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At first it was only Senator Ping Lacson, who was making noise about the alleged secret insertion of amounts that smelled like “pork” in the national budget. Now Senator Frank Drilon sniffed it out and the two have virtually brought it to light. No wonder it took so long for the budget to be approved. We are already well into February, the second month of the year, and it was ratified only the other night. Yes, I think, it was already night time when it was finally passed!

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We should be glad we still have lawmakers like Lacson and Drilon who continue to protect the people’s money. But I suppose the so-called “pork” actually got through, because the questioning members were given only a few minutes to study or question it. So the pork lovers must have gotten their way again. I wish, though, that the members of the Manila media, who have access to the deliberations as well as the passing of the measure, had made more of a fuss over it, or at least, had taken down the names of those who proposed, and signed it.

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By the way, I haven’t confirmed yet whether Budget Secretary Benigno Diokno is the son of one of my most admired senators, the late Jose Diokno. If he is, then his father must be restless in his grave, knowing how his son is doing as a government official, charged with such an important role as a person in charge of the budget. Seems he makes boo-boos everytime he opens his mouth. Imagine, he has been summoned to answer questions on the operations of his office, but, so far, he has not shown up in any of them. Not even a subpoena could make him come forth. Is he avoiding or evading being made to explain what takes place in his office?

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No wonder Rep. Rolando Andaya of Camarines Sur has described him as “inutile and a coward” who will just find excuses to avoid questioning. He even accused Diokno of having “evil schemes”! Well, this Rep. Andaya must have a flair for the dramatic, because he even refers to Diokno projects as “cloak and dagger operations.” I do hope he is not related to the Senator Diokno I knew, a decent, brilliant and transparent man who also had a very strong sense of righteousness and for helping the oppressed. Does the present Budget secretary have any of these traits?*

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