Sec. Roque in Malacañang recently stated that Filipinos should not be “mapili” or choosy concerning what brand or the origin of the vaccine used by government to inoculate them against COVID-19. Instead of intelligently and factually addressing the questions and concerns about the government’s decision to buy from Chinese manufacturer Sinovac, Roque once again turns the table on the public and accuses them of being choosy. In retaliation one Netizen coined a “word” if not phrase stating: “SinoVacumita” that earned approval among Facebook users. Every time they find themselves in a corner, Roque et al simply degrades every argument by being dismissive, petty or accusatory. It’s not just the PNP or AFP that gets into “red tagging,” Malacañang has long had a tradition of labeling critics or people who challenge bad decision or leadership as “enemies of the state.” Under the Duterte administration, his talking heads have simply said it in Tagalog.
There is no doubt that they are strong believers of the phrase: “If they are not for us, they are against us” and that would explain why they habitually label people as choosy, why they label critics as “kaaway” or enemies of government. Unfortunately the origin and proper use of “If they are not against us, they are for us” comes from the Bible in the books of Mark (9:38-41) and Luke (9:50), where Jesus tells his apostles not to forbid others from performing apostolic and mission work even if they are not part of Jesus’ group. What’s interesting is that the teaching begins with “If they are not against us” because Jesus was clearly emphasizing motive and intent and not prescribing or accusing. Many people who criticize government in the past and present do so to correct or challenge what needs to be challenged and not because they or we are enemies of the government. It is not personal except when talking heads make it personal by suggesting that people are being choosy.
Quite frankly, what is wrong with being choosy if the science tells you that the Sinovac vaccine is less effective and almost double the price of the more reputable and already rolled out Pfizer vaccine? What is wrong with raising an eyebrow and questions if the Astra Zeneca vaccine is in the region of P250 sold at cost to the Philippines while the Sinovac vaccine is somewhere between P2,000 to P3,000? What’s wrong with being choosy if the choice is between a vaccine that is backed by transparent recording and scientific data submitted to global and local authorities compared to another that requires an interpreter to translate and scientists to actually verify the veracity of claims made by its manufacturers? But the fact of the matter is, it is not an issue of being choosy. The issue here is credibility and integrity in the decision to procure millions of doses of a vaccine that is being challenged by health experts, not to mention the anomaly in the price difference.
Add to all that, the unanswered question on how the DOH dropped the ball on the Pfizer vaccine purchase but stealthily closed a deal with Sinovac. Was the Pfizer purchase incompetently delayed or was it intentionally delayed in favor of Sinovac? How did Secretary Duque and associates manage to buy so much vaccine that cost more while the vaccine czar Lito Galvez spent several weeks if not months ironing out a deal with the private sector/business to buy vaccines for their employees and donate the other half of the purchases to government? If I recall correctly, Secretary Galvez said that government did not have all the money and the laws made it difficult to make such urgent purchases. This is a case where the left hand spent so much money while the right hand was busy asking for help with a begging bowl.
Given that the vaccine purchase from China was already a done deal, the talking head in Malacañang should have taken his own advice and shut up on the matter, then the headache would have simply gone away. But because he once again decided to react and give an opinion, he ended up stirring animosity and discord.
Perhaps it would be good to be reminded of what the Book of Proverbs 6: 16-19 tell us:
“These six things the Lord hates, yes seven are an abomination/detestable to him:
Haughty/proud eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community ”
Given the diminished public confidence with vaccines in general and the propensity of Sec. Roque to stir people to a point of annoyance, it may be time for Sec. Roque to limit his engagements to talking about presidential activities since that is his title. At the moment he has already talked himself into a situation like he is the one calling the shots at the IATF and sounding like he is the boss. Needless to say, he has politicized the office if not the image of the presidential spokesperson. That becomes a major handicap in trying to get factual, scientific and medical information to the public so that everyone will support the vaccination program, both friends and foe alike.
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In case you are allowed outside of residence, part of an office, own a company, lead a church, organization or community, the Philippine Children’s Medical Center or PCMC in Quezon City, the top government pediatric facility in the country, is appealing for blood donations in order to restock their dwindling supplies that have been reduced due to COVID-19 lockdowns. PLEASE go directly to the hospital and look for the Pediatric Blood Bank office. God bless!
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