Pia Cayetano’s campaigns for kids

By Ermin Garcia Jr.

WE have reason to be alarmed by the sudden and unexpected measles outbreak in some parts of the country because there is no way our government can control its spread to Pangasinan except to accelerate the vaccination campaign particularly among our children.

Note that Dagupan has recorded the most number of measles cases owing to its population as an urban city. It behooves residents to prod families needing to be immunized to bring them to the city health office for vaccination for their own safety and protection.

It is comforting to know that Rep. Pia Cayetano has taken it upon herself to campaign for more mothers to heed the call of the Department of Health and health officials of local governments to mobilize and campaign for their children’s vaccination. She’s been making the rounds, meeting with mothers and rallying local officials in Luzon to assure them of the effectiveness of vaccinations for measles.

In sharp contrast, LP Sen. Riza Hontiveros couldn’t do any better than to launch her typical blame-game in the senate, demanding the resignation of Public Attorney Office’s Persida Acosta, trading barbs with Davao City Mayor Sarah Duterte-Carpio in the process.

We are seeing a campaign to save children’s lives, not the usual “vote-for-me” campaign in Cayetano’s senate bid. I hope other senator wannabes will follow suit.

I know former SAP Bong Go is doing it thru the establishment of his Malasakit Centers.

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DEEPLY ALARMED. Pia Cayetano being the principal author of Republic Act 10152 – Mandatory Infants and Children Immunization Act – is stressing the urgency to end the “general feeling of distrust” among parents towards the government’s mandatory immunization program.

When I heard the news na nagkaroon na ng outbreak [of measles], dino-double ko ngayon ‘yung  time ko wherever I go to talk about it, to give the mothers that sense of confidence na kailangan nilang ipa-vaccinate ‘yung mga anak nila,” she said.

Briefed by a study made by the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene revealed that in 2018, only 20 percent of Filipinos agreed to the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, lower than the 80 percent recorded in 2015.

Ibig sabihin, four in five mothers takot? Mahirap ‘yun. We have to rebuild the trust… because so many illnesses na hindi na natin nae-experience ay may danger na bumalik,” Cayetano reacted.

Indeed, “Bakit natin iri-risk ‘yung buhay ng mga babies dahil sa misinformation or lack of knowledge? Nananawagan talaga ako, hindi lang sa mga nanay, kundi sa buong komunidad… Suportahan natin ang mga nanay para mabalik ang kumpyansa sa immunization.”

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WANTED: HONEST YOUTH. We laud Bayambang Mayor Cezar T. Quiambao’s administration for launching Honesty Stores program in the town’s public schools.

It is an innovative program for promoting moral values among the town’s kids, preparing them for bigger responsibilities in the near future. I dare say Mr. Quiambao’s vision for generational change is on target.

Without need for him to articulate the rationale for the program, he is in fact showing where today’s and yesterday’s adults failed in addressing corruption in our midst in both  public or private establishments.

For decades, we have been paying lip service to the urgency of fighting corruption. Recall what we aspired for when the law creating the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) was established.  It was touted that the SK will be the training ground for future leaders of our towns, cities and provinces. Instead, the political leaders quickly exploited the opportunity to build on their plans for their corrupt political dynasties.

Since value formation was not highlighted, the SK easily became a breeding ground for corruption in higher offices. It was not unusual to hear of SK presidents learning the art of corruption and getting away with it from their parents who had them installed in SK.

The negotiations for kickbacks and commissions became the norm behind purchases of sports equipment ostensibly for youth programs. Funds were used to cover party expenses under the cover of community projects.

I see his idea of establishing Honesty Stores in schools taking on the vision for SK.

I only hope that the town’s Bayambang Poverty Reduction Action Team (BPRAT) overseeing the operations of the stores will not go the way of many ningas cogon initiatives at the first signs of problems in pursuing the programs’ development.

I say this because the program is up against the common excuse used by kids (and their parents and siblings) who steal –  “Gutom pa ako,” May sakit ang nanay ko, etc.”

I wish Mr. Quiambao and his team lots of luck for the success of this program and I look forward to citing his town’s experience as a model for all LGUs to emulate. Truthfully, the program embodies Rizal’s vision – “The youth is the hope of the fatherland.” – by specifying that “The honest youth is the hope of the fatherland.”

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VM BRIAN’S FOLLY. The sudden proliferation of illegal sized posters in Dagupan City  featuring the senatorial bets of Hugpong ng Pagbabago political party and bearing the LIFE logo of the Lim-Fernandez mayoralty tandem is clearly deceptive aimed at circumventing the election law.

Does VM Brian Lim actually think that he can curry favor with the Duterte administration by using the LIFE logo as cover for the promotion of HNPs senatorial bet, making it appear that as a LIFE campaign, it is, not covered by the election rule for the national posts?

Worse, by flouting the law using  the names and faces of the candidates, Mr. Lim’s LIFE is risking the integrity of all the candidates who are espousing good and honest governance.

If deception is what VM Lim’s administration will be about should he win, then I won’t be surprised if the city will again see more of the same corruption-tainted projects initiated by his father, the late ex-Mayor BSL

Remember how Mr. BSL justified the purchase of the 30-hectare lot in Barangay Awai in San Jacinto on the pretext that city needed to construct a sanitary landfill? VM Brian easily forgets that it was one of the fraudulent projects that haunted his father until his last days.

Curiously, VM Brian was muted the whole time the San Jacinto issue was being discussed by the city government seeking the return of the payment.  Is this an indication that he will cause the cover-up of all the corruption-tainted projects of his father should he win at any time in the future ?

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NO PRESS FREEDOM ISSUE. The brouhaha being sustained by anti-Du30 forces over the filing of libel case against Rappler’s Maria Ressa and her subsequent arrest tells us that millions continue to fund mobilization for the ousting of PRRD.

How could they even think for a moment that the arrest of Ressa will trigger a people power of sorts, aided by messages of support from their alliances overseas that could lead to DU30’s ouster.

President Erap filed a libel case against me in 1999 as publisher of Manila Times, with P150 million in damages attached to it. That was a direct attempt at harassing and intimidating Journalists but we never had to invoke press freedom as the core issue.

Now simply because Ms. Ressa gets a cyber-libel complaint from a businessman, press freedom is suddenly an issue? Her anti-DU30 network alliance must be so desperate to think she can succeed where Sen. Sonny Trillanes miserably failed.

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