Cayetano seeks more time to study bill creating Virology Institute

Senator Pia Cayetano on Monday, December 12 urged senators to consider amending the mandate of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine instead of "killing it" by incorporating some of its functions under the proposed bill creating the Virology Institute of the Philippines (VIP).

Cayetano said she feels that the proposed law creating the VIP will only "kill and bury" the RITM, whose importance was seen and felt during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The senator noted that under the bill, the RITM will effectively be absorbed by the newly created Center for Disease Control and Prevention or the CDC bill.

"In other words, RITM will cease to exist, as it was presented to us during the hearing. What will continue to exist are various functions of the RITM," Cayetano said in a privilege speech she delivered during the Senate plenary session.

"Sa madaling salita (In other words), your honors, parang chinop-chop ang (it's seems they chopped up the) function of the RITM and it will continue to exist within CDC," she pointed out.

Cayetano, then, called on her colleagues to consider reviewing the mandate of the RITM as there is no point in pushing for a "very technical" bill that does not have the support of the Department of Health (DOH) and other health experts.

However, the bill has been certified as a priority measure by the Marcos administration.

"We are giving DOH and the experts the time, it is their timeline, they are part of the administration, to come to us with the versions that they want, including reconciling these issues also on RITM and the Virology Institute," she said, adding that she believes there is no need to rush the passage of the bill.