US-funded training lab vs biochem threats opened

Michael Punongbayan - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — A US-funded training center for Filipinos intended to help deal effectively with biological and chemical security threats has been unveiled in Silang, Cavite.

The US embassy said the National Virtual Training Center (NVTC) is “a multimillion-dollar advanced training and practical laboratory facility that will increase the quantity and quality of training programs that cover multiple disciplines of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear security.”

It was designed, constructed and equipped through funding from the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA)’s Biological Threat Reduction Program and Chemical Security Elimination program. Details regarding funding were not revealed.

The facility aims to enhance the Philippines’ capacity to train current and future generations of laboratory specialists and first responders in detecting and preventing threats arising from weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), the embassy said.

“This facility will house a lecture hall for classroom-setting trainings, a practical biological diagnostics laboratory classroom for hands-on biosafety and biosecurity trainings and a virtual reality room equipped with headsets to provide an opportunity to train virtually on a chemical security curriculum,” DTRA program manager Corey Erff said.

The inauguration of the NVTC was attended by Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Serafin Barretto Jr., National Intelligence Coordinating Agency director General Ricardo De Leon, Philippine Public Safety College (PPSC) president Ferdinando Sevilla and representatives from the Office of the President, the Department of Health, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the University of the Philippines.

“The NVTC will be a tool for the country to address emerging threats and provide continuing education to public safety practitioners following international standards,” De Leon said. 

“The NVTC will help to achieve the goal of having a peaceful and safe nation, resilient against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats and free from WMDs,” he added.

The DILG and PPSC will oversee the operations of the NVTC, which will be open for use by all government departments and academic and industry partners.

“The construction of the NVTC, and any future collaboration, is carried out by the United States government in close collaboration with the Philippine government, ensuring strict adherence to Philippine laws. By working together, these projects will continue to ensure the safety and well-being of Filipino citizens,” Erff said.

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