In his interpellation at the hearing tackling the proposed Virology Institute of the Philippines Act, Sen. Lacson gets clarifications from DOST officials on the bill and its progress. He also pushed for the bill’s immediate passage. Sen. Lacson is the author of the Senate version of the bill (SB 1543).
* 2021 Budget Allocation:
Sen. Lacson questioned the allocation of only P284M for the Virology Science Institute in the proposed 2021 GAB, as he noted the initial funding needed is P2B. “How can they proceed with P284M out of the P2B requirement to establish or put up the Virology Science and Technology Institute?”
DOST Sec. Fortunato dela Peña said they can conduct research activities initially at existing facilities including the DOST’s Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI) in the meantime, adding most of the P284M allocation for 2021 will be utilized for the acquisition of equipment, most of which will come from abroad.
In reply, Sen. Lacson stressed the need to pass the legislation “within the year or at least early 2021.”
* DOST Assurance:
Sen. Lacson received an assurance from the DOST that the proposed VIP’s functions and mandate will be “specifically defined and clarified,” so they will not overlap with other agencies such as RITM and other research institutes. “May we have that assurance from DOST na di ito mag-compete o mag-overlap, specifically defined and clarified ano ang functions at mandate ng VIP?” Sec. dela Peña replied that they “have a system to ensure there is no overlap.”