Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda has allayed apprehensions of workers of the government-owned Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) that there will be no abolition or layoffs in the outfit as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) moves closer to becoming law.
Salceda, chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, gave the assurance as workers in the RITM protested recently over possible layoffs with the creation of the CDC.
Salceda ruled out abolition of the RITM.
Salceda, principal author of the measure, was the first to propose the creation of the new agency as early as January 2020. He said that “that is not the intention, the objective, the letter, or even the execution of the law.”
“I don’t know where it comes from. but let me categorically say, on record, that the RITM will stay, it will continue to perform most of its functions, and there will be no layoffs.”
The CDC charter has been approved by the House committees on Health, Ways and Means, and Appropriations, and is now ready for deliberations in the plenary. The measure was a priority of the Duterte administration and was also a SONA bill of President Marcos.
Salceda said “the CDC will be primarily a national health emergency management, public policy, and research center.”
“The RITM is, and will continue to be, its own research center with a hospital, a testing center, the country’s central reference laboratory, and will continue to perform its existing role over many diseases, including perennial ones like tuberculosis and malaria.”
Salceda added that under the CDC, the RITM will be part of a “total disease prevention ecosystem, rather than an island of epidemic prevention under the current health governance structure.”
“Simply put, it will be a tree that’s part of a forest, rather than something more solitary as it currently stands.”
“You can quote me on this: As champion of the CDC charter, we will not defund the RITM because of the new agency,” Salceda says.
Salceda added that plantilla units under the RITM may “at worse, be relocated to some other units in the CDC; but no job reduction.”
The Senate Committee on Health is also discussing the CDC bill and Salceda hopes that, as both chambers have started deliberating on the measure early, the agency has a stronger chance of getting enacted this Congress.
“The RITM issue is one of the misconceptions about the bill, and that was a hurdle to its passage in the Senate last time. So, let’s put it to rest,” Salceda stressed.