HOUSE Committee on Ways and Means Chairman and Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Sarte Salceda thanked Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri for the Senate leader’s commitment to passing the charters of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virology Institute of Science and Technology within the first quarter of 2023.
This was an offshoot of a “high-level meeting” between the Senate leader, Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez, on January 27 in Malacañang. Salceda is the principal author of both charters.
“I thank the President, Speaker Martin, and SP (Senate President) Migz for committing to enact these charters into law by 2023. As the WHO (World Health Organization) rolls back the declaration of COVID-19 as a global health emergency, we should take this lull as an opportunity to beef up our defenses,” Salceda said.
Speaker Romualdez also filed a bill on CDC.
“In particular, SP Zubiri’s assurance is crucial because the House has already approved these charters. In the past Congress, certain concerns of Senators about organizational redundancy held discussions up in their respective Senate committees. The charter proposals have since been revised significantly to address these concerns. So, hopefully, the bills can already be approved,” Salceda said.
Salceda was also the first legislator to file the CDC bill in February 2020 before the COVID-19 lockdowns. Salceda also filed the Virology Institute charter “after sitting down with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and drafting the charter proposal together with its leadership and staff.”
“The CDC and Virology Institutes are a booster to the country’s health capacity. By now, [the] aggressive expansion of our health capacity following the COVID-19 pandemic should somehow prepare us for the next big thing. But having a CDC to treat disease prevention and surveillance as an everyday concern and a Virology Institute to manufacture vaccines for us will set us on top,” he said. “Countries in Asia with their own CDCs and Virology Institutes came out on top during the pandemic. That helped them become more resilient economically. Taiwan and Vietnam come to mind as the premier examples.”
“For example, Vietnam has its own virology centers, and CDCs at the provincial level. The latter was established from 2016 to 2019. Of course, that allowed them to be very resilient during the pandemic. They were the first to be looked at as a location to shift away from China. Their 2022 performance was outstanding. At least 11 Taiwanese companies in Apple’s supply chain have relocated to Vietnam. Lego opened a US$1 billion plant,” Salceda said.
“Meanwhile, Taiwan’s economy did not shrink during the COVID-19 pandemic. That outperformed almost all economies in the world. Of course, it was Taiwan’s CDC that first alerted the WHO about the COVID-19 pandemic. And they have institutes to commercialize virus technology, such as the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI),” he said.
“With most issues already resolved, I hope we can already move forward. The Senate’s guarantee of a timeline is crucial,” Salceda added.