Lawmakers seek creation of PH virology institute

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 27 2020 02:35 PM

Lawmakers seek creation of PH virology institute 1
Healthworkers wait for residents who wish to be tested at a drive thru testing center in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig on April 29, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Lawmakers in both chambers of Congress have filed measures for the creation of virology institute in the Philippines as the country battles the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson filed Senate Bill 1543 which seeks to establish the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines (VIP) under the Department of Science and Technology.

House Bill No. 6793, authored by Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda, also seeks to create a virology research institute under the same agency.

Under Lacson's proposed measure, the institute will be funded with an initial amount of P2 billion and operate a virus gene bank, virus genome laboratory, virus reference laboratory, and a network of databases.

The facility will be located in a 5-hectare lot of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority in the New Clark Economic Zone in Tarlac, Lacson said.

"The country needs diagnostics to detect and limit the spread of the existing viruses; vaccines to provide long-term protection; treatments to save lives in the shorter term, and social science to understand their behavioral and societal implications," he said, citing the "devastating" impacts of COVID-19 especially to the poor.

The virology institute will also work with international organizations, Salceda said.

“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,” he said.

The DOST has endorsed the bill's passage and 154 lawmakers have supported it, according to Salceda, who chairs the House Committee on Ways and Means.

The Philippines has so far recorded 14,669 cases of COVID-19, with 3,412 recoveries and 886 deaths.

The pandemic will bring up to P2 trillion in economic damage, the Department of Budget and Management earlier said.