Duterte seeks quick passage of priority bills on vaccine institute, OFW department

Published July 26, 2021, 8:27 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

Faced with the lingering coronavirus threat, President Duterte is pushing for the creation of a vaccine development institute as well as disease control center in the Philippines.

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In his sixth and final State of the Nation Address, the President asked Congress to swift pass the bills creating the Virology Institute of the Philippines and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The two bills are among the priority legislation endorsed by the President during his final address to the nation.

“Today is my last State of the Nation Address but this is by no means my swan song. I shall never cease to implore Congress to pass vital and critical legislation as well as push the entire government to ensure nothing less than the full recovery and revitalization of our country,” he said in his speech that lasted almost three hours.

“We hope to pursue the creation of public entities dedicated to managing emerging and re-emerging diseases. I thus fervently request Congress to enact a law creating the Center for Disease Prevention and Control and the Virology and Vaccine Institute of the Philippines,” he added.

Duterte expressed confidence in the Filipinos’ capability to develop the country’s own vaccine supply. “I am sure the Filipino brain can also process or make vaccines in the future,” he said.

At present, the country has relied on foreign suppliers for coronavirus vaccines to be administered to Filipinos. The government has already secured more than 31 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, administering 17 million jabs so far. Over 6 million Filipinos have already been fully vaccinated.

Since the pandemic erupted last year, the country’s cases of coronavirus have soared to more than 1.54 million. The Philippines has 54,262 active cases while the death toll reached 27,224 as of July 25.

In the same SONA, the President pushed for the swift passage of the bill creating the department of migrant workers and overseas Filipinos. He said the proposed department would be focused on addressing the needs and taking care of the welfare of our countrymen abroad.

He also wanted Congress to pass a bill institutionalizing e-governance in the country to facilitate the transition of government processes to the digital age.

To help ensure the country’s preparedness and resiliency to natural hazards and disasters, Duterte also asked Congress to pass the Disaster Resilience Act that will create the Department of Disaster Resilience.

Also included in the President’s priority list are the amendments to the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, the Foreign Investments Act and the Public Service Act, a proposed unified system for separation, retirement and pension of military and uniformed personnel, as well as free legal assistance to military and police personnel.

“Let us also pass the law implementing the Fire Protection Modernization Program to bolster the readiness of our firefighters and ensure their ability to respond to fires and disasters,” Duterte said.

He also made a pitch for the mandatory establishment of evacuation centers in every city, province and municipality across the country to provide the basic needs and assistance to all evacuees during emergencies.

 
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