President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. (Screengrab from RTVM)

MANILA – President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Thursday reiterated his promise to create an “enabling environment” for research in the country by pushing for the creation of a local virology institute and disease prevention and control center.

Marcos made this remark during his attendance at the 15th Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) Week celebration at the Clark Marriott Hotel in Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga.

“As your President, I hope my presence here today gives a clear signal that this administration continues to support your endeavors so that together, we can create an enabling environment for the Filipino research community that fosters collaboration and cooperation that will yield solutions that will make lives better for our fellow men and women,” he said.

Marcos cited how the immediate passage of a measure creating the Virology Institute of the Philippines (VIP) would “consolidate disparate research, knowledge, and data”, while the passage of a bill creating the Philippine Center for Disease Prevention and Control would prepare the country for “unfortunate warnings” concerning pandemics.

“We have been in consultation with the House of Representatives and the Senate to create these agencies. We will continue to work so that our people are safer, so that our citizens have better access to health care, and so that the quality of our health care will improve,” he added.

Meanwhile, the President praised the country’s health researchers for their “unparalleled commitment” to helping the country respond to the pandemic.

Citing his own experience after contracting the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) for the first time in March 2020, Marcos said “intellectual humility” helped researchers hone their competencies and gain new insights from other experts.

“For the first time in our experience, I asked the doctor and I said, what is happening and he said, ‘I don’t know.’ ‘What are you going to do to cure me?’ ‘We don’t know.’ That is the situation that we were in. There was a total lack of information, of knowledge about this new pandemic. That is why the work that you did, that developed – the genome sequencing so that we could follow and identify and detect the different strains as they came about, the tests kits that you were able to develop for the local community, the modeling that was done – this was all a fruit and of your partnership, and it is something that has never been seen before,” he said.

Marcos said the coordination and leadership among researchers would help the country utilize the maximum economic and social benefits that stem from the rapid developments in science and medicine.

“A key element of the work that you do is the cooperation: Different agencies have come together and removed all the barriers in terms of scientific research in exchange of information of help in facilities, help in using all of the laboratories so that we are able to maximize our efforts. This has been the key to the successes that you have enjoyed, and the successes you will enjoy,” he said.

Noting that research institutes were generous in sharing information at an unprecedented rate, Marcos said nations have learned to mitigate the various problems that have come up during the pandemic.

“I think we are better prepared because we have formed and we have had experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic. And that, I think, still remains the key element to our success,” he added.

The PNHRS Week, which recognizes research as crucial in “facilitating the development of national health policies towards an equitable, efficient, and effective health system,” is celebrated every second week of August under Presidential Proclamation 1309 of June 2007.

Carrying the theme, “Health Research: Responding to Challenges Towards National Recovery and Resiliency”, the week-long celebration serves as a venue for the health research community to share their insights, best practices, and experiences in developing innovative solutions to contribute to national recovery towards achieving resilience through health research and development. (PNA)