RITM to stay in rhythm with new law–Salceda

A leader of the House of Representatives on Sunday reassured workers of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) that there will be no abolition or layoffs in the government research unit as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) inches closer to becoming law.

House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Joey Sarte Salceda, principal author of the CDC bill, said “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,” said Salceda adding the agency “will continue to perform most of its functions; and there will be no layoffs.”

The lawmaker gave the reassurance as workers in the RITM have protested recently about possible layoffs with the creation of the CDC.

The charter of the CDC has already been approved by the House Committees on Health, Ways and Means and Appropriations and is now ready for deliberations in Congress. The measure was a priority of the Duterte administration and its successor as President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said so in his first State of the Nation Address last July.

Salceda was quoted in a statement as saying that the CDC will primarily be 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,” he added.

Salceda said 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,” he said.

“You can quote me on this: As champion of the CDC charter, we will not defund the RITM because of the new agency,” Salceda added.

The lawmaker said that plantilla units under the RITM may “at worse, be relocated to some other unit in the CDC; but no job reduction.”

The Senate Committee on Health is also already discussing the CDC bill. Salceda said 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,” he said.