The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday said establishing the Virology Institute of the Philippines (VIP) would be critical in ensuring the recovery in the agriculture sector as the government reported recent outbreaks of avian influenza in some duck and quail farms in Bulacan and Pampanga.
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said the proposed research institute for non-human viral infections and prevention would enable the country to be “ahead of the curve” and be able to research viruses that are specific to the context and national needs.
“Having a virology institute for non-human contexts would have been a significant help in keeping the recent avian flu outbreak in check,” Salceda said.
He noted that the bill is a presidential priority, and urged the Senate to approve the proposal before the Duterte administration turns the government over.
The House of Representatives, meanwhile, has already approved the measure on the third and final reading.
“Viruses among animals and plants is just as common an occurrence as they are among humans. And, of course, zoonotic viruses that affect humans begin among animals anyway. So, we really need to be ahead of the curve and be able to research viruses that are specific to our context and to our national needs,” Salceda said.
Salceda formally offered his support, as co-chair of the House Economic Stimulus and Recovery Cluster, to the efforts of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to fight the burgeoning outbreak of the H5N1 strain of avian flu in Central Luzon farms.
“I write to you to offer my full support, as Co-Chair of the House Economic Stimulus and Recovery Cluster, for the Department of Agriculture’s efforts to contain the recently discovered H5N1 strain of influenza among duck and quail farms,” he said in a letter to Agriculture Secretary William Dar.
He offered to request the Bureau of Customs to strengthen efforts to fight avian flu and ensure that smuggled poultry is condemned immediately upon apprehension.
He also said he will request the Philippine Ports Authority and the Department of Transportation to work with the agriculture department to craft guidelines to strengthen avian flu prevention measures.
“I am aware of the gravity of this threat and its possible impact on economic recovery if left unchecked,” Salceda wrote Dar. (PNA)