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Villar pushes creation of virology agency
DEPUTY Speaker and Las Piñas City Representative Camille Villar is pushing to create a virology agency that would forge new paths for a “pandemic-resilient” Philippines.
In filing House Bill (HB) No. 5683 or the proposed Virology Institute of the Philippines [VIP] Act of 2022, Villar said she hopes that “systems can change to better handle future public health emergencies.”
“Once enacted into law, this legislation will better equip the country with mechanisms and methods in dealing with another possible pandemic that could potentially wreak havoc [on] the lives and livelihood of people,” the lawmaker stated.
The institute, which will be under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), will be the focal agency for carrying out research relating to viruses and viral diseases in humans, plants, and animals.
It is also mandated to establish partnerships with experts and virology centers worldwide to conduct innovative and pioneering research that will advance virology in the country, including developing new treatments and vaccines.
“It is high time to pass this legislation as an immediate answer to prioritize the health and welfare of our countrymen,” said Villar.
In his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. listed the proposed VIP as one of his administration’s priority measures and urged Congress to pass the legislation.
Plans to create a virology institute have snowballed after the deadliest pandemic in modern medical history emerged, with the DOST launching programs to develop the institute and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) allocating some five hectares of land in New Clark City for the construction of the institute, even while the bill is pending.
During the 18th Congress, the House of Representatives approved its version of the proposed Virology Institute on the third and final reading.