Press Releases

On the approval of House budget panel of virology institute

May 21st, 2021

House budget panel approves virology institute; Salceda says bill will improve PH capacity to respond to future pandemics

The House Appropriations Committee has approved today the Virology Institute of the Philippines (VIP), the administration version of which was principally authored by House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district). The bill would establish a virology research institute in the Philippines under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

Citing the need for the country to citing the need to “detect and limit the spread of the existing viruses; [provide] vaccines to provide long-term protection; treatments to save lives in the shorter-term, and social science to understand their behavioral and societal implications,” Salceda says that the DOST-endorsed bill will help the country be better prepared for pandemics in the future.

Salceda, who was also author of House Bill No. 6096, which could have been the country’s comprehensive pandemic response program had it been passed soon after it was filed last January, says that the bill creating the Virology Institute of the Philippines (VIP), together with HB 6096, “should serve as a foundation for a resolutely science-based manner of addressing infectious diseases and epidemics.”

“It should be clear to all of us: preparation yields the best outcomes. The same goes for pandemics. It’s difficult to do because the rewards are not immediate. But the consequences to the unprepared can be catastrophic,” Salceda said.

Priority of the Duterte administration

The VIP’s campus in New Clark City is part of the priority programs under the Build, Build, Build program of the administration.

Under the bill, the VIP “shall serve as the premier research and development institute in the field of virology, encompassing all areas in viruses and viral diseases in humans, plants, and animals. It shall act as a venue for scientists, both here and abroad, to work collaboratively to study viruses of agricultural, industrial, clinical, and environmental importance.”

VIP will also work with international organizations and “conduct innovative and pioneering researches that will advance the frontiers of virology in the country.”

“The difference between the VIP and the current approach of the RITM is that VIP will be dedicated exclusively to the broadest and deepest possible exploration of everything we need to know about viruses that can affect the country, and more importantly, how we can prepare for them, as well as what opportunities lie in the research. For example, my region is the world’s biggest producer of abaca, and apparently abaca is among the best filters in the world. RITM will be the medical laboratory. VIP will be the R and D unit. CDC, which will be the umbrella unit for RITM, will be the overall health emergency management operation.” Salceda explained.

The DOST has provided Salceda with key inputs for the bill, and is endorsing its passage in Congress.

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