A Philippine Virology Science and Technology Institute that will be the country’s first line of defense against Covid and any of its future mutations will be pursued under a Lacson presidency.
Sen. Panfilo “Ping” M. Lacson stressed this Saturday evening as he said the institute will be the hub of research and development efforts to address the threat of Covid and other novel viruses.
“Ipu-pursue ko ito dahil ito ang magliligtas sa atin. Hindi na tayo mag-import. Lalakasan natin ang research and development sa pamamagitan ng Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines (I will pursue this because this will save us. We will no longer import knowhow. We will strengthen research and development through this institute),” Lacson, who is running for President under Partido Reporma, said at the Commission on Elections’ First Presidential Debate.
“It is not a question kung handa o hindi handa ang Pilipinas. Dapat lagi tayong handa for the next pandemic, Deltacron man o maski anong variant, o bagong pandemic (It is no longer a question of whether we are ready. We should always be ready for the next pandemic, be it Deltacron or any other variant, or any new pandemic),” he added.
As early as May 2020, Lacson filed a bill for the institute but the bill did not pass the Senate.
However, Lacson noted the 2022 budget has set aside P982 million as a startup fund for the institute. Also, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) is eyeing to build the facility at New Clark City.
On the other hand, Lacson said this will go hand in hand with his commitment to ensure a historic increase in funding for research and development, from the “pathetic” current 0.4 percent of the national budget.
Lacson also said this should be complemented by a proactive approach by the government in dealing with threats from viruses.
“Dapat proactive tayo mag-isip at hindi nagre-react (We should be proactive instead of reactive),” he said.
Meanwhile, Lacson said micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) should get top priority of the government in its efforts to help the economy recover from the pandemic.
He said the MSME sector accounts for 99.5 percent of our enterprises, with 400,000 Filipinos having lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
“Kailangan ng comprehensive fiscal stimulus para sa ating MSMEs. Tulungan natin sila ibangon kasi napakalaki ng tama sa ating economy na galing sa sektor ng MSMEs (We need a comprehensive fiscal stimulus for our MSMEs. We should help them recover because of the great damage they sustained when the pandemic hit our economy),” he said.
Lacson said the MSMEs need to be made aware of government programs to help them, including a P2-billion agricultural guarantee fund pool.