MANILA – The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday lauded President Rodrigo Duterte for ordering the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to include the Virology Institute of the Philippines (VIP) in the President’s budget proposal for 2022.
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said Duterte’s prioritization of the VIP in the national budget will help ensure the passage of the bill chartering the institute.
Salceda noted that Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado said in a presser on Wednesday Duterte instructed the DBM to ensure that the country has capabilities to create solutions for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), one of which is the establishment of the VIP to develop the capabilities of the country’s scientists to produce “our own vaccines”.
“I am elated to hear that President Duterte gave explicit instructions to Secretary Avisado that the Virology Institute be prioritized,” Salceda said “The measure will help not only create a vaccine for Covid-19, but also for the other virus-related threats we face, such as the African swine fever.”
In May, the House Committee on Appropriations approved the substitute bill on the VIP’s charter.
“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.
Under the measure, the VIP will become the premier research and development institute in the field of virology, encompassing all areas in viruses and viral diseases in humans, plants, and animals.
He said 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.
“We need this institute critically. Agriculture needs it, especially since our plant exports are susceptible to viral infections. Our public health system needs it, above all. This is a matter of literally vital importance, and I thank President Duterte for sharing our vision on this matter,” Salceda said.
He said the VIP will become the research and development unit while Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) will be the medical laboratory.
“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,” he said.
The Department of Science and Technology endorsed the passage of the bill.
The VIP’s campus in New Clark City is part of the priority programs under the “Build, Build, Build” program of the Duterte administration. (PNA)