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Best actress.

It may be all the rage today to poke fun at the Best Actress 'from the Carlo J. Caparas School of Acting,' Persida Acosta. It seems she has taken it as a personal crusade to prosecute those whom she thinks are behind the deaths of children supposedly as a result of being given the antidengue vaccine.

Acosta's claim to fame is as head of the Public Attorney's Office, which has the responsibility to provide legal assistance to people accused of crimes but who are too poor to hire their own lawyers. But given this heavy duty-for there are thousands of accused languishing behind bars for lack of legal assistance-it seems she has too much time on her hands.

Before becoming the lead actress in the Dengvaxia drama, she gained a lot of media coverage for inserting herself and her personnel in investigating the death of Kian Loyd delos Santos. Though hundreds of drug suspects had been killed previously as part of the administration's war on drugs, it took the killing of Kian, then just 17, to galvanize the strongest protests against the summary executions.

It seemed weird at first that the PAO should probe Kian's killing because the accused were policemen-who certainly didn't need any help defending themselves. After all, they claimed to be carrying out their duties. Acosta even issued heated statements about the 'execution' of Kian. But in the end, when media attention died down, Acosta ended up exonerating the accused cops, despite her avowed goal of seeking 'justice for Kian.'

Now Acosta has moved on to the children who supposedly died after being injected with Dengvaxia. It's a mystery why she took on this responsibility, since the agency involved is the Department of Health, and there's a lot of government bodies that could lend assistance to the probe: police examiners, the National Bureau of Investigation's forensic teams, even the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital, which in fact conducted its own study at the request of Health Secretary

Francisco Duque.

All of a sudden, without so much as a by-your-leave, Acosta was deploying her own 'forensics team' to examine the bodies of deceased children. Even Acosta, who is not a doctor, was photographed in scrubs and protection gear during the tests and has lately taken to donning white lab coats during press conferences. Why, she even managed to faint after letting loose a tirade-in full view of the media, of course.

The wonder of it all is where Acosta acquired the authority, much less the expertise, to insert herself in the Dengvaxia matter. Apart from her histrionics, which she has passed on even to the mothers who claimed their children had died because of Dengvaxia (a claim they later denied), what competence could she contribute to the investigation?

There is speculation that this is all 'in aid of elections,' or posturing for a higher post, but we must still ask: Why do her superiors allow her to get away with it? Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre has direct authority over her, but has uncharacteristically remained silent. President Duterte himself, given the huffing and puffing that the controversy has generated, should realize it's time for him to step in, or at the very least, rein in his Best Actress aspirant. What's stopping him?

February is not just 'love month' but also National Arts Month. Consolidating the two 'loves'-romance and love for the arts-women legislators are sponsoring a group exhibit called 'Art for Heart's Sake' on Feb. 19-21 at the North Wing of the House of Representatives.

The Association of Women Legislators Foundation Inc., together with the UP College of Fine Arts Alumni Foundation Inc., is sponsoring the event which features works by 25 artist-alumni of the

UP College of Fine Arts.

Initiating the holding of the exhibit is Rep. Michaelina Antonio of the Agbiag Party-list. The association president, Rep. Linabelle Ruth Villarica of Bulacan, said they are partnering with the artists 'both to showcase the importance of arts and culture in Philippine life and also to celebrate the month of love in a unique and meaningful way.'

Many of the 60 works on show are by the country's leading artists. The proceeds will benefit the UP Fine Arts scholarship program.
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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Feb 9, 2018
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