THE shocking thing to realize as the COVID-19 pandemic rages is that the Philippines is at the complete mercy, not only of Big Pharma but also, of other countries, when it comes to protecting the health and welfare of every Filipino.
During last week’s Meet the Press Report to the Nation Media Forum, Dr. Lulu Bravo, executive director of the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination, bared that there was a time when the Philippines had already developed its capacity to develop its own vaccines—in the 1970s, during the time of Pres. Ferdinand Marcos or some 50 years ago.
But when our “democracy” was “restored” in 1986, Marcos’ successor, Corazon Aquino apparently included this local capacity to already make our own vaccines as among the casualties of her wrath against the Marcoses.
The laboratory dedicated to this task was simply allowed to wither, die and now, utterly forgotten, similar to the effort at national industrialization of Pres. Marcos where the facilities for this, like the National Steel Corporation was allowed to decay under Corazon Aquino and then sold for near scrap by her successor, Fidel Ramos.
In hindsight of course, we now also realize that the “democracy” we have gained, post-Marcos, was of the transactional variety where easy money is to be made, especially by what the communists referred to as the “bureaucrat capitalists” or those who get rich by using their government positions for personal gain.
Yearly, billions of pesos are being allocated by Congress and being spent by the government for the procurement of vaccines for all sorts of infectious diseases.
And in a bureaucracy dominated by bureaucrat capitalists, we no longer wonder why not a penny is being allocated to “recapacitate” the country into making its own vaccines thru budgets for research facilities, laboratories and the training of local experts and scientists.
We cannot describe this as plain oversight on the part of Congress or Malacañang but simply to plain greed—there is no more commissions and kickbacks to be made if we start making our own vaccines, is there?
And of course, to hell with the health and well-being of all Filipinos.
But still, the need for us to refocus our priorities and put resources to regaining our capability to make our own vaccines has become necessary.
This is the most important lesson that we should have all learned during this period of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We cannot forever throw away billions of pesos each year in buying imported vaccines as this can only impoverish us further.
The time will come we simply cannot afford it and when that time comes, where would most of us end up? Six feet under.
Government must now wake up. Now is the right time to give priority to the creation of Filipino-made vaccines. This is the only lasting solution that we can all benefit from.