President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday urged lawmakers to pass bills that would establish a Philippine Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) and Department of Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos—two institutes he has long been pushing for.

Duterte said the creation of the CDC and a Virology and Vaccine Institute of the Philippines would help the country manage emerging infectious diseases better.

“However poor we are, I think that the Filipinos, given the proper support and the things there, the equipment that they have to use—I am sure that the Filipino brain can also process or make vaccines in the future,” he said.

The vaccines the Philippines has been using to fend off Covid-19 were all internationally sourced.

The local science department has been conducting studies on virgin coconut oil and lagundi as Covid-19 treatment medicine.

The department for overseas Filipino workers, Duterte said, would also help address government lapses.

“Kailangan po ito because they are…suffering now with so many inadequacies, in both our government response including monetary assistance,” Duterte said.

Duterte also endorsed the following bills during his final SONA:

  • An “E-Governance Act” that would “set up the transition of government processes to the digital age”
  • A “Disaster Resilience Act” that will create the Department of Disaster Resilience.
  • A “Fire Protection Modernization Program” to “bolster the readiness of our firefighters and ensure their ability to respond to fires and disasters”
  • The mandatory establishment of evacuation centers in every city, province and municipality throughout the country, “which shall provide the basic needs and assistance to all evacuees during times of emergency”
  • A bill providing free legal assistance to Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police officers and enlisted personnel “to help [defend] them from charges arising from incidents related to the performance of official duty”
  • The Public Service Act
  • The Retail Trade Liberalization Act
  • A unified system for separation, retirement and pension of military and uniformed personnel John Ezekiel J. Hirro