‘Priority bill’ on virology institute OK’d on 2nd reading

Published November 29, 2022, 7:39 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

The House bill (HB) seeking to establish the proposed Virology and Vaccine Institute of the Philippines (VIP) has been approved on second reading.

(Mark Balmores/ MANILA BULLETIN)

During House plenary session Tuesday evening, Nov. 29, House Committee on Health Chairman and Batanes lone district Rep. Ciriaco Gato stood at the podium to sponsor House Bill (HB) No. 6452.

From there, the measure breezed through the plenary as there were neither interpellators to Gato’s sponsorship speech nor amendments to the bill.

The measure was passed on second reading via simple voice vote.

“Mr. Speaker, distinguished colleagues, this representation would like to stress that the VIP bill is a priority bill that His Excellency, President Ferdinand [Bongbong] Marcos Jr., has manifested in his very first State of the Nation Address (SONA),” Gato said in his speech.

Through the VIP, HB No.6452 aims to strengthen the country’s capacity to address health emergencies like the Covid-19 pandemic. The institute will be an attached agency of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

This envisioned state-of-the-art virology laboratory will be erected in New Clark City, Tarlac.

It will be mandated to focus its research on viruses and other pathogens using modern approaches and the development of diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics.

The VIP will be tasked to conduct in-depth studies on viruses and their potential disease-causing agents that affect people, plants, and animals, in order to provide the scientific bases for the treatment of viral diseases, and for the formulation of policies that shall prevent the transmission of these diseases.

The measure was principally authored by House Speaker Martin Romualdez, Marcos’s top ally in the legislature.

The bill is also part of the Common Legislative Agenda (CLA) of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC).

The VIP bill is expected to be passed by the House on third and final reading next week.