Press Release
May 6, 2021

Bill establishing the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines filed by Bong Go to make Phl more prepared to face future health crises

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go, on Tuesday, May 4, filed a measure seeking to establish the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines (VIP) as he calls for a more proactive approach in dealing with future pandemics.

"In the long term, investing heavily on health research initiatives should be pursued. It is for this reason that I filed this bill in support of President Rodrigo Duterte's call to establish a virology institute that will capacitate the country to conduct scientific research initiatives and eventually develop our own vaccines," he said.

"These efforts are intended to avoid similar situations where poorer nations are left with fewer medical resources, such as vaccines and other essential drugs, to address pandemics as compared to more developed countries that have early on invested in health sciences and medical research," he added.

Senate Bill No. 2155, or the "Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines Act of 2021", establishes the VIP which will serve as the principal laboratory of the country in providing virology laboratory investigations, researches, and technical coordination of the entire network of virology laboratories nationwide.

In the explanatory note of his proposed bill, Go stated that previous viral outbreaks could have been prevented or handled more efficiently with the presence of a national virology laboratory that will conduct studies of viral diseases in humans, plants and animals.

"Understanding the genetic changes in viral genome is a prerequisite for a strong public health response to emerging, re-emerging and existing viral diseases," Go pointed out.

As the government strives to address the current pandemic situation in the country, Go said that authorities must also learn from these experiences, identify gaps in policies and response mechanisms, and be more proactive in preparing for other similar crises in the future.

If passed into law, the proposed institute will be an attached agency under the Department of Science and Technology. The DOST, in coordination with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health, shall promulgate policies for and exercise of supervision and control over the Institute.

All functions of the DOH involving biomedical research in virology and of the DA involving animal and plant virology will also be transferred to the Institute.

The Institute shall be headed by a Director, who shall have a rank of an undersecretary and shall be appointed by the President of the Philippines upon the recommendation of an advisory body. The Institute will also have technical and administrative support staff as well as consultants as may be necessary.

Meanwhile, all virology laboratories will be required to regularly provide local and international education and training for its laboratory workers at the expense of the laboratory.

The DOST will also be tasked to device a scheme that provides incentives for laboratory workers in virology laboratories whose outputs result in high-impact medical, agricultural, technological and industrial innovations.

Earlier, Go said that he hopes for the proposed virology institute to eventually enable the country to develop and manufacture its own vaccines against diseases, such as COVID-19, in the future.

"Hindi natin masabi kung may pandemya pa na darating sa buhay natin. So, mabuti na po na maging proactive tayo. Someday, magkaroon sana tayo ng sariling kapasidad na gumawa ng bakuna sa bansa. Ngayon pa lang, paghandaan na natin ang posibilidad na ito," he said.

Meanwhile, pending the establishment of the institute, Go commended the ongoing efforts of the government, in coordination with the private sector, to set the foundation of being 'vaccine self-reliant' in the years to come.

"As an immediate step, I thank pharmaceutical industries for showing interest in locally manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines. With this, I ask the various concerned government agencies to work in synergy with the private sector on this promising endeavor and make it easier for all stakeholders to share their expertise," he said earlier.

Aside from this measure, Go also filed Senate Bill No. 2158 which seeks to create the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to serve as the lead agency for developing and applying communicable disease control and prevention initiatives. It will be primarily responsible for controlling the introduction and spread of infectious diseases in the country.

News Latest News Feed