A vaccine against stupidity


By: Reyshimar Arguelles

WHY is it that most of the people we entrust our life and future with are so stupid, depraved, and morally bankrupt? I’m talking about people who say they take public service seriously and demonstrate this undying devotion to the public good through fainting spells and other pathetic theatrics.

Up to now, it’s hard to forgive the Public Attorney’s Office headed by “Dr.” Persida Acosta for sowing the anti-vaxxer seed in the country. At the height of the Dengvaxia mess, it was Acosta who led the investigation into the alleged anomalies over the procurement and implementation of an anti-dengue vaccine which turned out to be experimental. The PAO had everything it needed to launch a criminal suit against Aquino administration officials as well as everyone else involved in the mess. What it lacked, however, was a brain, to which Acosta wouldn’t amount to much.

And so, recent reports indicate a rise in measles cases in the National Capital Region and elsewhere in the country. The PAO chief’s award-winning performance at a press conference really worked – if its purpose was to cause panic and plunge the country into a deeper mess that has already resulted in numerous deaths.

Recently, at least seven deaths from measles were reported in Metro Manila as the number of cases of the disease has increased by 367 percent, according to a World Health Organization report. Meanwhile, hospitals are flooded with measles patients, most of whom did not undergo immunization. The worst part is that health officials are expecting the number of hospital admissions to rise further as cynicism over the use of vaccines remain.

Acosta’s grandstanding and her sordid hero-crusader-BS complex has been called out by officials on both sides of the public sphere. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, an actual doctor, blames PAO for the waning trust in vaccines and the blatant disrespect that health workers face due to Acosta’s hysterics. In her defense, Acosta attributed the worsening measles problem to a worldwide trend. And yet it somehow went over Acosta’s head that the resurgence of the measles epidemic had been the result of the anti-vaxxer movement’s ignorance over the use and application of vaccines.

No doubt, Acosta carried the very same ignorance of the anti-vaxxer movement and went so far as to leverage it (either out of sheer foolishness or tactlessness) to downplay her office’s role in exacerbating the already derelict state of this country’s healthcare system. Still unrepentant and insisting that the smear campaign against her is politically-motivated (basically, an easy excuse to deny how ethically abhorrent she really is), Acosta has become the epitome of a disease that’s costing the lives of children and everyone else who become easy prey to the misinformation and the utter recklessness that people of her ilk peddle.

But let’s not be too harsh. Indeed, acting on her mandate as the people’s attorney, Acosta was merely functioning as the protector of the health and well-being of the Dengvaxia mess’s principal victims. Then again, things would have turned out for the better had she avoided going overboard with her superheroine schtick.

When people in public service begin to realize the significance of their roles in society, they would rather limit themselves to the personas they have assumed, whether or not they follow standards of conduct and established procedures that aim to prevent a much larger problem from arising.

We have yet to move on from the Dengvaxia mess, and still another case of ignorance has just surfaced. This time, it has a lot to do with the rehabilitation of Manila Bay. Who isn’t against restoring the bay to its former glory? But like the Dengvaxia mess, the pollution problem in this scenic part of the capital has been handled rather haphazardly with the same shallowness that the hypebeasts at the PAO possess. Yes, it’s proof of what political will can do, but whoever thought of cleaning up the bay clearly has no idea of a more sustainable solution. The bay is still a health hazard and it’s not enough to consider as the “new Boracay” (I mean, come on!).

The genius behind this move should have been given an anti-stupidity vaccine, together with the “doctor” herself.