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Columnist’s take on how Dengvaxia did not cause deaths among kids get netizens’ attention



After the House hearing on Dengvaxia on February 26, Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Ramon Tulfo came out with his article “Deaths not due to Dengvaxia” that caught the netizens’ attention.

As of writing, Facebook Links showed that the Inquirer column already got shared over 8,000 times.


In his column, Tulfo, an apparent supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte, said that this certain angle in the Dengvaxia issue has not been given that much attention because “it is not interesting to readers who had already formed an opinion based on distorted news” about the vaccine.

He noted how even the Palace, through Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, has told the media that only three out of the 14 deaths linked to Dengvaxia have a “causal association” with the said vaccine, explaining that causal association merely meant that the supposed victims died despite getting the vaccine, but not necessarily because of it.


Tulfo also brought up how Health Undersecretary Enrique Domingo said two out of those three deaths may have been due to vaccine failure, citing a report from the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH).

He slammed the House of Representatives for still pushing through with the hearings on Dengvaxia despite UP-PGH’s findings, all because there were congressmen who wanted publicity on national TV.

He also scored how the hearings have “demonized some people and destroyed the reputation of the Department of Health (DOH) as a guardian of public health.”

UP-PGH findings

On February 6, UP-PGH experts allayed rising public fears about Dengvaxia by saying that there is no reason to panic amid the deaths of some children who received the vaccine.

“Kasi sa dami nang nabakunahan ng Dengvaxia, talagang meron na normal diseases na mangyayari with or without Dengvaxia,” UP-PGH expert panel head Juliet Sio-Aguilar said during the Senate hearing on Dengvaxia.

“Ang kailangaan ipahiwatig ay ang dengue infection ay ‘di mangyayari kung ‘di makakagat ng lamok. Kaya importante ang ating paligid lilinisin natin, ‘wag lalagyan ng bagay na puwedeng breeding places ng dengue,” she added.

Dr. Mary Ann Lansang supported Sio-Aguilar’s sentiment, noting how the reported deaths are not yet proven to be caused by Dengvaxia.

“Hindi rin po, hindi pa natin nakukuha ‘yung final result from the dengue investigative task force kung talagang dahil sa severe dengue na-enhance or napalubha ng Dengvaxia or natural wild type na dengue ito. Meron ho maliit na risk na baka na-enhance… but we can address that ho by very prompt health [care],” she said.

She advised people with high fever to immediately seek a doctor’s help.

Lansang also noted how clinical trials showed Dengvaxia to be “generally safe” and that majority of the pupils injected with it are shown to be seropositive, or have had dengue before.

“Wala pong basis mag-panic po ngayon. Ang advice po namin based on our calculations doon sa mga results from the clinical trials, in general, safe ho kasi marami sa mga kababayan natin at that age would be seropositive. Ang problema natin 10% to 20% or maybe 30% na seronegative,” Lansang said.

The UP-PGH panel found that 3 of the 14 reported deaths linked to Dengvaxia have causal relation, which meant the victims died despite receiving Dengvaxia; 2 of the 3 deaths may have been caused by vaccine failure; and most deaths were caused by other illnesses.

Citing these findings, the DOH clarified that Dengvaxia did not directly cause these deaths.

PGH director Gerard Legaspi also explained their findings and made the same clarification.

“There is no direct evidence for now that the vaccine caused any change in the course of the dengue shock syndrome of the kids,” Legaspi said.

“Namatay sila dahil sa dengue. Kaya ayun ang declaration ng Task Force, that the cause of death was the dengue shock syndrome and not the vaccine,” he added.

However, the UP-PGH findings are still subject to validation, given the Public Attorneys’ Office’s announcements that they noted a bleeding pattern among the 14 deaths.

UP-PGH forensic pathologist Dr. Maria Cecilia Lim earlier explained that internal bleeding is not a case unique to those afflicted with dengue.

PAO chief Persida Acosta has refused to work with UP-PGH experts, something she reiterated in the February 26 hearing, saying that she cannot let them participate in the investigation because they were sanctioned by the DOH, which is in itself being made accountable over the Dengvaxia controversy.

Palace backs UP-PGH findings

On February 3, Roque cited the UP-PGH findings during a media briefing.

“Itong unang report po nila mukha namang makakahinga na tayo nang mas mabuti, mga nanay at tatay, dahil mukhang hindi po related sa Dengavaxia iyong katorse na naulat na namatay di-umano dahil diyan sa bakunang iyan,” Roque said.

He added that the UP-PGH findings showed that the vaccine may not have worked on two of the victims, but that it should be considered as good news to other parents.

“Ibig sabihin, hindi gumana iyong Dengvaxia. Pero ‘yan po ay mabuting balita doon sa 830,000 na mga nanay/tatay na naa-abala at natatakot na baka may banta sa buhay ng kanilang mga anak,” he said.

The PGH panel of experts, however, recommended further investigation before declaring their findings final.

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Netizens slam Duterte for saying women ‘could not stand threats and intimidation’



President Rodrigo Duterte drew flak for another controversial comment involving women after he remarked on May 24 that women “could not stand threats and intimidation.”

Duterte said that while he believed in women’s competence, it does not necessarily ring true in all aspects of life.

“I believe in the woman, the competence and capability, pero hindi lahat sa buhay dapat.Hindi ka, hindi, hindi. Dapat lang. It’s not appropriate when you cannot stand threats and intimidation,” he said in his May 24 speech.

He also said that women should be “prim and proper” and talked about his reservation in sending women police and soldiers to the field because unlike men, they did not grow up with a mindset that involves violence.

“Ang mga babae, sundalo pati pulis, ayaw ko ‘yan sa bukid. Unlike men kami, maliit pa lang, suntukan, bakbakan, barilan. And we grew up with a sort of a mindset na sometimes prone to violence. Itong mga babae, prim and proper man ‘yan, isang tingin lang sa nanay niyan, wala na tunaw na ‘yan. Tapos gawin mong pulis, ipaaway mo doon. Naku,” Duterte remarked.

Netizens then took to social media to react to Duterte’s most recent statements, making #BabaeAko trend again on Twitter.

“Mr. President, you just horrifyingly disrespected your own mother who bravely fought against the Marcos dictatorship. She withstood threats and intimidation. Siya ay babae! #BabaeAko,” a Twitter user remarked.

Forensic expert Dr. Raquel Fortun spoke out, too, saying “I am threatened and intimidated a lot. All my life. Don’t me. #BabaeAko.”

So did film and theater actress Chai Fonacier, who said, “Encouraging women — and I mean including those who identify as women — and our friends from the entire spectrum to share your #BabaeAko statements to fight the misogyny that the President and his ilk normalize through their behavior. Make them remember the feminine strength.”

KABATAAN Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago also reacted, saying she refused to be stereotyped.

Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay urged other Filipinos to protest against Duterte’s misogynistic statements.

Other Twitter users weighed in on the issue.

Duterte’s previous misogynistic remarks


His remarks in his speech on May 24 seemed to have sought to explain another controversial remark he made on May 16 when he said that he did not want a politician, especially a woman, to become the next Ombudsman.

“Mag-nominate sila, pero I choose, but gusto ko ‘yung bilib ang tao sa integrity niya. Of course it could not be a politician, lalo na hindi babae,” he said during a chance interview.

This gave birth to the launching of the #BabaeAko movement on social media on May 21 by women activists and other people who also want to protest Duterte’s misogynistic and sexist statements.

One of  the women who joined the #BabaeAko campaign was former Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo who said, “Akala ko taumbayan ang boss ni Duterte. Yun pala sina Marcos, Gloria, Trump at China. Para sa bayang makatarungan at malaya, lalaban ako.”

In February, he was also slammed for telling his audience of former NPA rebels that he told his soldiers to shoot female rebels in the vagina.

Sources: ( )


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New DOT chief to ask Montano why he rushed official New York engagement to watch Broadway show



Newly installed Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said she plans on talking with Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) COO Cesar Montano to ask for his side on certain accusations that were hurled against him.

Among these accusations came from an Abante report where Montano was said to have rushed a speaking engagement staged by the DOT in New York to watch the Broadway musical show “Hamilton.”

DOT reportedly launched the Philippine Tourism Presentation and Dinner Reception on May 9 to showcase Philippine tourism and fashion at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York. Montano was introduced as the event’s keynote speaker, but he was said to have only spoken for a bit before hurriedly leaving the venue, disappointing the guests, which also included US officials.

Montano was said to have been invited to the event in behalf of the now-resigned Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo. He was also named as one of the two hosts, the other being Teo, of the said event.

In reaction to this report about Montano, Puyat said she would talk to Montano as well as the Tourism attache and other DOT officials who attended the event to verify the accusation in the report mentioned above.


Puyat said that she would investigate into the “Buhay Carinderia” program that the TPB is set to implement. This was after Philippine Star Boo Chanco accused Montano of issuing P80-million worth of three checks to the event proponent and organizer.

“I still don’t have the papers. I will be asking [and] will be arranging a meeting with Mr. Cesar Montano to ask about ‘yung mga nabasa ko sa ‘Buhay Carinderia’ – kung totoo ba na walang bidding ‘yung P80 million na advance,” Puyat said on May 15.

“I’m planning to talk to him and ask his side. I want to ask all those who were there if it actually happened,” Puyat added.

In March 2017, TPB employees filed a complaint against Montano for his alleged corruption and mismanagement of the agency. These include hiring friends and relatives, using TPB’s funds for personal trips, and showing incompetence in fulfilling his obligations as the agency’s COO.

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Eldest Tulfo vows to help Wanda clear her name, berates ‘black sheep’ Ben over controversial P60-M DOT ad deal



Inquirer columnist Ramon Tulfo spoke up about the controversy involving his siblings, now resigned Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo and hosts Ben and Erwin Tulfo, over the P60 million tourism ad deal.

The eldest Tulfo wrote in his Inquirer column on May 10 that while President Rodrigo Duterte himself advised the Tulfo family to avoid talking to the media, he took it upon himself as the family’s acting patriarch to tell the story behind the controversy.

First up, Ramon blamed Teo for not hiring smart staff members who could have advised her against inking a deal with PTV 4, where one of the Tulfo brothers, Ben, was a blocktimer.

As a blocktimer, Ben pays for his TV show’s airtime on the state-run channel.

According to Ramon, Wanda was only complying with President Duterte’s injunction for his Cabinet secretaries to support PTV 4, adding that she did not know Ben’s company would get most of the multimillion advertising contract with DOT.

He also hit Ben, whom he called a “black sheep” with a “middle child” syndrome as the fifth child out of 10 siblings, for signing the P60-million advertising contract with PTV 4 despite knowing that there would be a conflict of interest on Wanda’s part.

Ramon also said that Wanda still tried to save Ben, who insisted on his innocence amid the controversy, leading her to resign from her post. He also explained that Wanda seemed to have forgotten the fact that her husband was on the board of director of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza), a part of DOT, when Duterte appointed her as tourism chief. He added that it should have been up to her husband to step down from his post upon his wife’s appointment.


In the same column, he also slammed Wanda’s lawyer, Ferdinand Topacio, whom he said did not even consult the Tulfo brothers on returning the P60-million funds from the ad deal. He also described the lawyer as “all talk,” a counsel who’s only focused on gaining publicity for himself.

Unlike what has been previously reported about Wanda resigning out of delicadeza amid the controversy, Ramon let it slip that he commended President Duterte for “sacking Wanda,” prompting some people to ask whether Wanda was fired instead of resigned.

Before he ended his column, he vowed to support “Wanda’s fight to clear her name, but not Ben’s.”
Wanda resigned on May 8 to show delicadeza and to spare everyone, especially Duterte, from the pain caused by the controversy, according to her lawyer.

The issue started with the Commission on Audit’s report showing the DOT paying P60 million worth of commercials to PTV 4, which in turn, tapped Ben’s Bitag Media Unlimited Inc. to air the tourism ads during Ben and Erwin’s show “Kilos Pronto.”

Malacañang said that Teo’s resignation does not mean that she is off the hook since the Ombudsman is still looking into her and other government officials involved in the controversial ad deal.

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