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Error in judgment

by Jullie Y. Daza

IN this season of giving, I am all for giving former President Benigno S. Aquino III the benefit of the doubt. Not to absolve him, not to whitewash his sins if any, but to consider that he made an error in judgment in hastily greenlighting a massive vaccination drive at the height of the dengue outbreak.

Consider: A health emergency was threatening children and adults brought about by a species of mosquitoes that had seemingly grown more aggressive over the years. Consider: If he did not act as he did then, he would be damned, as he is now being damned for taking action in 2016. Consider: He was still being raked over the coals for being out-of-it, callous, unsympathetic, insensitive, etc. in the aftermath of his worst humiliation, the Mamasapano massacre and his cold-hearted refusal to receive the bodies of the dead soldiers – it was time to turn things around, do a good deed. Consider: In hindsight, he acted with indecent haste to buy Dengvaxia, but what if Sanofi had not come clean later to openly admit the risks posed by the vaccine?

It is hard to believe that any sane person, let alone someone occupying the highest position of the land, would willingly and with malice aforethought endanger the lives of innocent people numbering in the hundreds of thousands. It is easy to believe that the Dengvaxia deal, as overpriced as it was, was done in a rush because it was election season and Mr. Aquino’s Liberal Party needed funds to run a presidential campaign which he “had to win” at all costs or face retribution for the sins of his government. Hard to believe . . . easy to believe . . . these are opinions. That he committed a grave mistake in judgment under pressure is also an opinion, mine, for the moment.

For the moment, conjectures, opinions, suspicions are all we have.

In my opinion, President Duterte was most presidential when he said it is not in his character to go after his predecessor, in a not so oblique reference to criticisms of the former president as a vengeance-seeking leader armed with great powers over his enemies, perceived or real.

The Senate hearings should bring out the facts about Dengvaxia, Philippine politics, and the marketing methodologies of the trillion-dollar pharmaceutical industry. The facts will lead us to the truth, let the ax fall where it should. In this brilliant season under the Star of Bethlehem, let the light, not heat, prevail.

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