The innocent is as brave as a lion.
In a surprising and bold move, former President Noynoy Aquino attended yesterday the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the controversial Dengue vaccine mess.
“There’s been a lot of tension build-up and it is incumbent upon me as a citizen to try and allay certain fears, to put it in proper perspective,”
The Aquino administration is at the center of this controversy because it was during the time of Aquino that the government through the Department of Health (DOH) launched a nationwide Dengue school-based immunization program. However, Sanofi Pasteur, the pharmaceutical company that supplied the vaccine Dengvaxia, recently issued an advisory saying that the said vaccine could lead to “more severe” cases of dengue when administered to a person who had not been infected by the virus prior to immunization.
The said program was continued by the government of President Rodrigo Duterte when the latter assumed office last year. In fact, the government is planning to expand the program until Sanofi issued its advisory.
The former president defended his administration’s decision to implement the program and claimed that no one advised him of the ill effects of Dengvaxia before, during, and after they administered the vaccines.
“From our perspective, the choice was simple: we can implement at this point in time to afford the protection or wait at least a year minimum and expose a risk that could be prevented because of this. I just want to state for the record, what we had then, none of these warnings in November 2017,”
Aquino said in reply to Blue Ribbon Committee chair Senator Dick Gordon’s questioning.
As a matter of tradition and in recognition of the presidential immunity from suit, both the Senate and the House of Representatives does not issue summons to incumbent presidents to force them to attend congressional investigations in aid of legislation. This tradition also extends to former presidents as a matter of courtesy. What the legislative bodies can issue are mere invitations which the sitting or former president can simply ignore.
Thus, when Aquino, fondly called PNoy when he was president, attended and joined the hearing yesterday in order to confront the issues and to clear his name, he was commended both by long-time supporters and non-supporters.
Harvey Keh, awarded in 2010 as one of The Outstanding Young Men ((TOYM) and founder of Kaya Natin! Movement, commented that Aquino showed the kind of leader that our country deserves.
Felipe Buencamino said it was great to hear once again a president who is decent, rational and even-tempered.
Others were simply impressed by Aquino’s courage who remained steadfast and yet humble and decent despite the clear witch-hunting of Gordon and the fishing expedition and malicious innuendos of Hitler fanatic Atty. Ferdinand Topacio.
Even those who did not vote for him as president in 2010 and non-believers of Daang Matuwid, Aquino’s slogan for his anti-corruption and good governance platform during his incumbency as president, have nothing but admiration and respect for the former president.
While some netizens were not able to resist the urge to compare Aquino to Duterte and even to former President Gloria Macapal-Arroyo who claimed to be sick when she was being prosecuted for plunder and other crimes during the time of PNoy but “miraculously healed”” when Duterte became president.
Another netizen noticed Aquino’s punctuality as the former president arrived an hour early even before the members of the Blue Ribbon Committee arrived in the Senate hall.
But one of the best accolades given to Aquino came from the last Solicitor General who served his administration, Atty. Florin Hilbay. Hilbay said that Aquino will be able to stand confident and proud of the judgment of the people not only today but of generations to come.
Yesterday, PNoy gave us a glimmer of hope. This may be a difficult and challenging times for our dear motherland. But, as long as there are patriots and statesmen willing and able to fight for decency in government and society, this cause is worth fighting for.