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ROUGH CUTS | What’s eating up on gains in drive vs. illegal drugs?

 

 

 

TODAY is a historic day in Davao City. This day the roll-out of the massive vaccination program of the government will be made in the city using our share of the first ever vaccine to reach our shores since there was a scramble for the development of such a golden resource.

The vaccine is looked upon by the people and the government to be the ultimate weapon to fight the dreaded coronavirus disease now raging all over the world infirming so many millions of people, as well as bringing the economies of countries, powerful and weak, down to their knees.

The vaccine, which is a donation from the government of China and manufactured by a Chinese pharmaceutical company, arrived in the Philippines last Sunday afternoon. As per priority identification by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) charged to lead in the response efforts against the infection of the virus, the vaccine is to be administered to all medical health front liners.

The reason for putting them on top of the priority list is because the government is bent on protecting the country’s health infrastructure system. The medical health workers are considered the pillars of the system and if they are allowed to be continuously exposed to the CoViD 19 without a strong protection time will come that they will eventually be infected by the deadly disease.

So, the government upon the recommendation of the country’s health management experts, decided to give the medical front liners the first shot at the vaccine that is first to be available in the country.

It was reported over local television early this week that some 12,000 vials of the vaccine made by Sinovac of China will be brought to the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) storage facility before these will be shipped out to other vaccination-designated hospitals like the Davao Regional Hospital in Tagum City, Davao del Norte.

At the SPMC, there are already ready medical front liner volunteers of 150 and their vaccination will be administered today. No less than Medical Director Ricardo Audan is offering to be the first to take the shot just to boost the morale and confidence of his co-workers to the China-manufactured vaccine.

We do not know whether 100 percent of the 150 that have volunteered to be administered the vaccine will make their promise good. But for certain that number will be encouraging enough for all other medical health workers who still have some doubts on the efficacy of the vaccine.

We also expect Dr. Ashley Lopez, the officer in charge of the Davao City Health Office (CHO) will have himself vaccinated so as to show the people of the city that they have full trust in the capacity of our experts who are helping the drug regulator Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decide on giving the Sinovac vaccine emergency use authority ( EUA) in the country.

Of course, we know that the 12,000 vials would not be enough for the health workers in the Davao Region especially if those in private hospitals and other medical facilities be factored in the determination of the total health workers.

We are certain, however, that the shortage will be compensated by the next vaccine to arrive in the country, a total of 500 thousand doses, from AstraZeneca which, according to Sen. Bong Go who has direct access to the President, in a statement made to a local television news, were expected to arrive yesterday.

We welcome this very positive development and we hope that our medical front liners will grab the opportunity instead of having themselves continuously enslaved by their bias for western products and the thought that medicines produced by Asian scientists can never be at par with those manufactured by Westerners.

We are also elated at the supportive attitude of our local health officials to the vaccine that first reached the Davaoenos. Lack of confidence, they say, can easily kill us even more than having too much confidence.

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This is something that the authorities have to exert more efforts at explaining. Since last week and early this week, the local police and the elements of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Authority (PDEA) have conducted several buy-bust operations in Davao City and its peripheral areas like Panabo City in Davao del Norte, and Digos City in Davao del Sur.

And in all these activities the law enforcement units confiscated quantities of illegal drugs in big and small value. And these incidents of violation of the anti-illegal drugs law are happening in areas where the strong national drug campaign has been patterned after using the personal experience of President Rodrigo Duterte when he was mayor of Davao City.

The success of the campaign during the term of the elder Duterte as mayor was quite obvious and the known drug lords were virtually tiptoeing with their activities in the city to ensure the continuance of their illegal business and their life’s existence in the world. And we could say that the scenario was replicated at the national scene when Duterte became President. Only that despite its public acceptance, the success turned sour because of the strong disavowal by international and Philippine-grown human rights advocates and the strategic collaboration and support by the opposition in government.

But somehow this apparent success in the campaign against illegal drugs and the large-scale distribution all over is being negated with the continued arrest of drug personalities and the huge volume confiscated from them. And there was that very bloody encounter between policemen and PDEA agents in Quezon City recently, all in the name of the campaign against illegal drugs.

With all these untoward incidents happening all over the country and in Davao City specifically, what would that make of the supposed success in the government’s drive to stop the flow of prohibited drugs in the country?

In Davao City, for example, it seems the drug traders are now trying to mock the local government’s efforts to curb the illegal trade. With so many buy-busts and arrests made, it is easy to assume that the illegal drug merchants are no longer afraid of the law enforcers and have lost respect to the local leadership. Maybe something more drastic has to be done?

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