Press Release
July 29, 2021

Gov't continues to learn and improve from COVID-19 experience, says Bong Go as PRRD highlights creation of CDC and Virology institute in his last SONA

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go echoed President Rodrigo Duterte's call for the passage of a set of bills meant to improve pandemic resilience and address fundamental gaps in the health system, saying the Philippines needs to be empowered to be proactive in responding to future disease outbreaks.

In his sixth and final State of the Nation Address delivered on Monday, July 26, President Duterte implored Congress to quickly pass a bill that would establish a center to monitor, track and respond to future public health emergencies and another bill to capacitate local vaccine manufacturing.

"We hope to pursue the creation of public entities dedicated to managing emerging and re-emerging diseases. I thus fervently ask Congress to enact a law creating the Center for Disease Prevention and Control and the Virology and Vaccine Institute of the Philippines," said Duterte.

"However poor we are, I think that the Filipinos, given the proper support and the things there, the equipment that they have to use ... the Filipino brain can also process or make vaccines in the future," he continued.

On May 4, 2021, Go filed Senate Bill No. 2158 which establishes the Philippine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC shall serve as the lead agency for developing communicable disease control and prevention initiatives. It will be primarily responsible for controlling the introduction and spread of infectious diseases in the Philippines.

Some of its major functions include working closely with other countries and international organizations to improve disease prevention and control systems and practices; investigating potential cases of public health emergency; procuring and distributing vaccines, antibiotics and other medical supplies; and enforcing regulations to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, among others.

The bills on CDC are currently pending with the technical working group under the subcommittee headed by Senator Pia Cayetano under the Committee on Health.

"Malaki ang pasasalamat ko kay Pangulong Duterte sa pagkilala niya sa kahalagahan ng isang Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Malaking bagay na nabanggit niya ito sa kanyang huling SONA," said Go, who is also Chair of the Senate Committee on Health.

"Hindi natin masasabi kung mayro'n pang pandemyang darating sa ating buhay. Kailangan nating maging proactive. Ang Philippine CDC ang magiging pangunahing ahensya ng gobyerno na magpapatupad ng mga communicable disease control and prevention measures," he explained.

Together, the Senator also filed Senate Bill No. 2155 which establishes the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines (VIP). The institute shall serve as the country's principal laboratory for virology research, laboratory investigations, and technical coordination of the nationwide network of virology laboratories.

If passed into law, all functions of the Department of Health involving biomedical research in virology and Department of Agriculture involving animal and plant virology will be transferred to the VIP. All virology laboratories will also be required to regularly provide local and international education and training for its laboratory workers.

"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," Go previously stated.

"Katulad ng polisiya ng Administrasyong Duterte na dapat one-step ahead tayo kung mayro'ng paparating na mga kalamidad at sakuna, nais nating mas pagbutihin pa ang hakbang ng gobyerno upang mas magiging ligtas ang buhay at kalusugan ng mga Pilipino mula sa mga banta ng nakakahawang mga sakit," he ended.

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