Department of Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato de la Peña (Photo courtesy of DOST)

MANILA – Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato de la Peña on Monday said he is very happy that President Rodrigo Duterte urged Congress to enact a law creating the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines (VIP).

"We already have the local experts (who) are also products of our scholarships and training. With (the help of) our Balik Scientists and international partners, we can do it,” de la Peña said.

In his sixth and last State of the Nation Address, Duterte endorsed the passage of a law creating the Center for Disease Prevention and Control and the Virology and Vaccine Institute of the Philippines.

“We hope to pursue the creation of public entities dedicated to managing emerging and re-emerging diseases,” he said.

Duterte said the Philippines has been getting the Covid-19 vaccines from abroad, since it was not able to invent one.

"I think the Filipino people, if given the proper support and the things, the equipment they have to use, I am sure that Filipino brain can also process or make vaccines in the future,” Duterte said.

De la Peña earlier said the Philippines does not have the capability to develop a vaccine due to the lack of facility, prompting him to propose the establishment of the VIP, which would be a premier research institute in virology and diseases in humans, animals, and plants.

He said the VIP is not only preparing to address Covid-19, but the other viral diseases as well.

"We can work on vaccines even for infectious diseases caused by non-virus organisms," de la Peña said.

As for the vaccines that the VIP would work on, he said these would include vaccines for children, for measles, dengue, typhoid fever, among others.

"Maybe we could also develop these, but we would prioritize vaccines for pandemics, as well as diseases of animals and plants caused by viruses," he added.

The DOST plans to start the VIP building construction next year, and to finish the building by 2023.

The agency also allocated some PHP284 million for virology research and development, which would cover virology and diseases in humans, animals, and plants. (PNA)