Saved You A Google: Roque gives up senatorial bid, pork barrel allocations, the measles outbreak and Persida Acosta.

The news has been pretty hectic. Senators are making moves, and sicknesses that shouldn’t be a problem are becoming a problem again. With all the things going on as election season draws near, this Saved You A Google offers you bite-sized info on not-so-bite-sized issues.


Harry Roque drops out of the senatorial race

Last Feb. 1, former presidential spokesperson and lawyer Harry Roque announced his withdrawal from May’s senatorial race citing health complications.

According to an announcement on his official Facebook page, the supposed People’s Reform Party candidate revealed that he has undergone a non-surgical procedure following the discovery of an “unstable angina coronary disease” earlier this week.

Despite the complications, Roque also said, “It is my sincere hope that I will someday again have the honor to serve the Filipino people as a legislator, or in whatever other capacity I may be of service.” Prior to the announcement, he held a low 21-26 ranking on Pulse Asia’s senatorial preference survey.


Alleged pork barrel allocations

After the recent celebration of the Year of the Pig, the concept of “pork” is ironically unwelcome in the other side of the spectrum, specifically in public service.

The term “pork barrel” started out as political jargon of American-English origin, referring to government funds allocated to lawmakers to win votes for their respective districts. The pork barrel was initially outlawed in 2013, after investigations were done on misallocated funds on the Philippine Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam

However, Sen. Panfilo Lacson bared the 2019 budget as “pork-laden,” lamenting that senators would divide P23-P25.4 billion among themselves, and House members were given P160 million. This lead him to urge President Rodrigo Duterte to use his power over the 2019 appropriations measure by “removing all the pork inserted by lawmakers who are incorrigibly insatiable and simply beyond redemption” in a tweet he made last Feb. 5. Nothing like a classy rant on Twitter, am I right?

The budget outlay was then sanctioned on Feb. 8, with 15 senators voting for its approval. Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles guaranteed that “the 2019 outlay would be devoid of ‘insertions’ of funds for projects, also known as pork barrel, and would be able to withstand scrutiny if challenged before the Supreme Court.”


Measles outbreak reported in Luzon and Visayas

Following the rise in the number of cases of measles last month, the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed that there is an outbreak of the highly contagious disease not only in Metro Manila and Luzon, but also in Eastern Visayas.

In a press briefing, Health Secretary Francisco Duque II announced that cases have surged in the past weeks, and that we need to “to strengthen surveillance of new cases and alert mothers and caregivers to be more vigilant.” DOH confirmed the rise of the outbreak after statistics rose to 196 cases in the perioid of Jan. 1 to Feb. 6 in contrast to the 20 cases recorded in the same period last 2018.

Duque then urged parents to have their children vaccinated, despite 2018’s vaccine coverage rate decreasing to 40 percent from 2017’s 70 percent.

Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros is calling for Persida Acosta of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) to step down following her antics regarding the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine issue. Acosta, according to the Senator, is one to blame for staining the public’s trust on vaccinations

Following the measles outbreak announced by the DOH, Hontiveros indicated in a statement that “[a]n important agency like the Public Attorney’s Office cannot be left in the hands of a person with such a track record of lies, negligence and hyper-partisanship.”

Acosta has then denied any responsibility regarding the vaccination scare, telling the public not to point the blame to her, then turning the tables to the DOH for their “failure to campaign” for vaccination of measles. Go figure. But a 2018 study done by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine indicates that the “highly-politicized response” to dengue vaccine has eroded the public trust in vaccines overall. So yeah, uh, look at where all fingers are pointing.


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