Senator Christopher “Bong” Go expressed in an interview on Thursday, September 21, after attending the groundbreaking for the Super Health Center in San Mateo, Rizal, his full support for the establishment of the National Disease Prevention Management Authority, Medical Reserve Corps, and the Virology Institute of the Philippines.
The measures were discussed during the Third Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) meeting.
When asked about the progress of these initiatives, Go, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health, responded, “As chair po ng Senate Committee on Health, full support po ako dito.”
“Nasa subcommittee ang mga bills na ito na pinangungunahan ni Senator Pia Cayetano. Nakapag-hearing na ito at isa ako sa mga nagfile ng bills. Hopefully, maipasa ito ngayong taon,” said Go.
“Priority rin ang mga ito ni Pangulong Bongbong Marcos, nabanggit din ito sa LEDAC, so suportado ko ito,” he added.
Go clarified that the NDPMA is essentially the same as the previously named Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) bill.
“Unang-una, napaloob po ito sa Philippine Development Plan po ng ating Pangulong Marcos. Itong paggagawa ng Center for Disease Control and Prevention, or ibahin man po, maging National Disease Management Prevention Authority ay suportado ko po ito,” added Go.
The senator emphasized the importance of being prepared for possible future pandemics, citing the country’s experience with COVID-19.
“Mas mabuti pong lagi tayong handa; meron tayong opisina na nakatutok po kung saka-sakaling may dumating na pandemya po sa buhay natin,” he said.
He recalled how the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) became a crucial office for COVID-19 testing, despite almost losing its funding during the 2019 budget deliberations.
“Noong 2019 naman bago dumating ang pandemya ay muntik ding binawasan ang budget para sa Research Institute for Tropical Medicine. Hindi po tayo pumayag. In fact, dinagdagan pa natin sila noong budget deliberations. Tama nga ang kutob ko, sino ba ang mag-aakala na ang RITM ang magiging isa sa pinakaimportanteng opisina sa panahon ng pandemya? Ang RITM din ang may kakayahan na mag-test ng iba pang nakahahawang sakit bukod sa COVID-19,” Go shared.
He concluded by saying that he supports these initiatives that will benefit Filipinos, the healthcare system, and the less fortunate. “Bagama’t isang boto lang po ako, ay suportado ko po ang mga ito.”
The senator has filed his own versions of these measures in the Senate. Go has filed Senate Bill No. 195 or the creation of a Center for Disease Control (CDC). If passed into law, CDC will serve as the country’s central hub for disease prevention, surveillance, and control, focusing on both infectious and non-communicable diseases.
Another key legislative measure from Go is SBN 196, which seeks to establish a Virology Science and Technology Institute. The institute is envisioned as a center for virology that will enhance the country’s capacity to study, detect, and combat emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.
He also filed SBN 1180 which seeks to establish a Medical Reserve Corps composed of individuals who have degrees in health-related fields but have yet to obtain professional licenses. The Medical Reserve Corps may be called upon to assist the national government and the local government units in their functions related to addressing the medical needs of the public in times of national emergencies.
Image credits: Bibo Nueva España/Senate PRIB