MANILA, July 24 (Mabuhay) — To improve the country’s response to the pandemic, the House of Representatives will prioritize the passage of two measures seeking to establish a virology research institute in the Philippines and a center for disease control when it resumes sessions next week.

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said Friday the two bills are part of the priority measures identified by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC).

The Philippine Virology Institute would serve as the premier research and development institution in the field of virology, encompassing all areas in viruses and viral diseases in humans, plants, and animals.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Center for Disease Control (CDC) will serve as the country’s principal health protection agency tasked to prevent, protect, and manage the spread of diseases and other health threats originating domestically and internationally.

Velasco said other priority bills listed by the LEDAC are the amendments to the Continuing Professional Development Act of 2016, Bureau of Immigration Modernization Act, and National Housing Development Act.

He also pledged to prioritize the legislative agenda that President Rodrigo Duterte will mention in his final State of the Nation Address (SONA). 

“We will work toward the approval of these bills once we resume (the) session and we will also take into account the priority measures President Duterte will mention in his sixth and final SONA,” Velasco said. “We will do our best to help the President fulfill all his promises to the Filipino people.”

The proposed Bureau of Immigration Modernization Act seeks to modernize, professionalize, and improve the compensation of officials and personnel of the Bureau of Immigration.

Meanwhile, the proposed National Housing Development Act aims to significantly reduce the country’s housing backlog through continuous funding support for socialized housing.

Velasco said Duterte has asked Congress in his previous SONA to amend the Continuing Professional Development Act of 2016, which requires Filipino professionals to take additional formal and non-formal learning before they can renew their licenses and identification cards.

He also highlighted that the House has passed some of Duterte’s priority bills mentioned in his SONA last year, among them the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentive for Enterprises (CREATE) Act, Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer (FIST) Act, Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act, and Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2.

“We in the House have actually passed a lot of the priority bills of the President, some of which are under deliberation in the Senate,” he added. (MNS)

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