PRODUCT CHECK. Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato de la Peña (left) checks on the products of the Food Innovation Center at the Pangasinan State University (PSU) in Bayambang town, Pangasinan on February 17. De la Peña also inspected the equipment given by DOST to PSU. (Photo by Hilda Austria)

BAYAMBANG, Pangasinan – Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato de la Peña is hoping that the Senate will approve the bill that seeks to formally institutionalize the Virology and Vaccine Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines before this administration ends.

De la Peña, in a press conference during his visit to the Pangasinan State University here on Thursday, said the proposal was already approved on third reading by Congress.

“We wanted to be self-sufficient from the other countries in producing vaccines. I believe we are able to do that in terms of human resources. We will not only research on a virus that attacks humans but also those that attack the livestock and crops,” he said.

Alongside the study on viruses is also the development of products to address these viruses.

“The institute will develop diagnostics kits, therapeutic, and vaccines. We will develop the technology but the mass production will be taken up by private sectors or government corporations,” he said.

De la Peña said even without the formal establishment of the institute, the proposal for the infrastructure was supported by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

“In 2021, DBM allotted PHP283 million to DOST to start the research and development and PHP50 million to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the development plan of the facility to be constructed at the Clark Freeport Zone,” he said.

A five-hectare land was designated at the Clark Freeport Zone for the virology and vaccine institute.

De la Peña said DBM has also allotted PHP150 million to the DPWH this year for the initial phase of construction of the facility and PHP500 million for the research and development projects.

Some Filipino scientists based in other countries have signified their intent to help in the projects under the institute through the Balik Scientist Program of the DOST, he said. (PNA)