Investigate foreign-funded biolab – Makabayan

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The House Makabayan bloc has expressed concerns over the reported construction of an animal disease diagnostic laboratory in Tarlac City with funding from the United States’ Defense Threat Reduction Agency (US-DTRA).

In a joint resolution, Reps. France Castro of ACT Teachers, Arlene Brosas of Gabriela and Raoul Manuel of Kabataan asked House leaders to investigate foreign-funded bio-laboratory projects in the Philippines, including the US-DTRA.

The party-list lawmakers said the $643,000-facility was turned over to the Department of Agriculture in September 2020 to supposedly boost the country’s biosecurity efforts against trans-boundary animal diseases.

“According to the DA, the new Regional Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (RADDL) in Barangay Paraiso, Tarlac City will provide advanced services through modern technologies to ensure a healthy and resilient animal sector in Central Luzon,” the resolution read.

The lawmakers warned that the US-DRTA is the official combat support agency of the US for countering weapons of mass destruction: chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high explosives.

“A civilian laboratory was constructed using funds of a foreign military agency, which has the responsibility of managing and integrating the US defense department’s chemical and biological defense science and technology programs,” the measure reads.

The resolution stressed that the task of civilian cooperation on bilateral agricultural concerns lies with the US department of agriculture and not on agencies under the defense department.

“Allowing the US defense department to influence civilian agricultural initiatives gives rise to reasonable suspicions on the true objectives of these projects in the Philippines,” the measure stated.

The lawmakers said it is true that the DTRA contributed to international efforts to confront ebola virus by spending approximately $300 million on scientific research and development.
However, the measure noted that the DTRA also participated in the Syrian civil war by developing the field deployable hydrolysis system, which was used to destroy alleged Syrian chemical weapons.

It said the DTRA was also involved in “Iraqi occupation, identifying, collecting and securing radiological material including almost two tons of low enriched uranium (LEU), several hundred tons of yellowcake (a type of uranium powder) and other radioactive sources.”

The resolution indicated that the funding agency for the Philippines’ agricultural laboratories have “clear overt and covert military objectives in the Philippines, which may not necessarily align with the civilian, even military, objectives of Manila.”

But aside from the US security sector, foreign-funded biolaboratories and research are being set up by foreign-funded nonprofits such as the Ecohealth Alliance in different parts of the world, including the Philippines.

The lawmakers said the Philippines should closely look into the activities of both the US-DTRA and EcoHealth Alliance to ensure that the Philippines will not be used as launch zones for geopolitical objectives and biological threats to the world.

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