Don’t toy around with the impeachment process
INTROSPECTIVE - Tony Katigbak (The Philippine Star) - September 10, 2017 - 4:00pm

I have written in previous columns that I felt that the political arena in the Philippines seems to be in a constant state of flux. Things are either up or down and never seem to be running smoothly. I suppose that is the nature of politics. However, it can get quite tiresome constantly going back and forth between officials having just been elected by a landslide to quickly being on the chopping block with impeachment looming.

I think the Philippines is one of the countries that throws impeachment around like it’s a commonplace thing. I’ve mentioned that before as well. While impeachment is a political tool that should be utilized when absolutely necessary, here in the Philippines we take it for granted and go to it immediately when things aren’t going exactly the way we want them to. What’s worse, politicians use impeachment as a threat against one another, something that is really quite counterproductive to the reason impeachment exists in the first place.

These days the news is constantly filled with stories about the impending impeachment of this or that high-ranking official. And while I am all about fixing corruption and weeding out the bad eggs I also believe that we should not be flinging impeachment around like its no big deal. It should not be used as a looming threat for every single mistake but instead should be utilized only in the correct circumstances and under the absolute rule of law.

I have never been fond of politicians mudslinging in the public arena and airing all their dirty laundry in plain view – especially when that seems to be more about serving their own purpose rather than for the good of the people. In the Philippines politicians are extremely candid about sharing the secrets of their rivals and guarding theirs with their lives. In fact, sometimes it seems that instead of focusing on doing a good job on their own some of our officials instead seek to make themselves look good by dragging others through the mud.

It’s tiresome and juvenile and it needs to stop. I agree with the Vice President when she said that impeachment should not be used a tool to threaten or coerce. If a government official has an impeachable offense then yes it should be filed as guaranteed in the Constitution but again, it should not be something that is just bandied about when a political rival is getting out of hand.

Sometimes I don’t think we think past the initial step or we weight the consequences. In the world that we live in, the court of public opinion is not just easy and quick but brutal. It’s not like it was in years past when news traveled slower and more deliberately. These days news travels faster than people can think and before you know it, people have already crucified someone for something that they did not do – or at least for something that hasn’t been proven.

In my day accusations were not just hurled around lightly. There were consequences for spreading rumors or unverified information. But today that is no longer the case. News is printed at top speed and can later be edited or changed online without any repercussions. While there are some laws being crafted or in existence to protect against this, we still have yet to truly see them being enforced. So currently it’s open season on mudslinging online and threatening online.

Which is why I think it’s even more important than ever to be careful of using impeachment as a knee jerk reaction and instead give it the respect it deserves – as a last resort against officials who have violated the Constitution and not as a tool against political rivals. We still have to understand the sanctity of our democracy and our way of government and our officials should always think carefully before they act.

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Despite the pervading heat, the rainy season is definitely in full swing. We’ve already seen several downpours and storms pass and we need to be vigilant about what the rainy season usually brings with it – more traffic, dangerous roads, potential calamities, and different types of illnesses. Getting sick is already more and more common with all sorts of viruses going around the country, but rainy season makes it that much worse.

In fact, it wasn’t long ago that it seemed like a super flu was going around and a bout of respiratory illnesses. We were fortunate enough to not get hit as bad as some of our friends and family, but we noticed that everyone seemed to have headaches, body pains, and respiratory illness. Several cases of pneumonia occurred and it seemed to just keep going around and around, being passed about in homes, schools, and workplaces.

Rainy season is also when mosquito-born illnesses are very prevalent. Dengue is a big issue that is always a problem in the country and this year it seems that the new thing that is scaring parents is Japanese encephalitis (JE). This is especially true because there have been quite a few deaths from JE recorded by the DOH in several parts of the Philippines. JE is similar to dengue in the sense that mosquitos spread it and the symptoms include fever, dizziness, and other flu-like conditions. However, unlike dengue, JE targets the brain like meningitis and can leave permanent brain damage.

The sudden outbreak of JE has definitely scared parents and has them asking their doctors about the vaccine against this disease. Currently there is no known cure and the only defense is the vaccine, mosquito repellent, and protecting against mosquito bites. The vaccine, which is not typically included in the regular recommended vaccine packages for Filipino children, is just one shot but is currently out of stock in most pediatrician clinics due to sudden high demand. Despite it taking a couple of weeks for the antibodies to form (as DOH mentioned), it’s still better to be safe than sorry.

In the meantime, take the same precautions you would against dengue. Observe cleanliness, don’t keep stale water, fumigate as often as possible, and wear long sleeves and jeans coupled with mosquito repellent everywhere you go.

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