By Reynaldo G. Navales
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
ANGELES CITY — A bill seeking to establish a stem cell center in the country, filed by Representative Carmelo “Tarzan” Lazatin (1st district, Pampanga), has been approved by the House Committee on Science and Technology.
During the hearing held last December 6, the committee headed by Representative Julio Ledesma (1st district, Negros Occidental), Lazatin’s House Bill No. 5287 entitled “An Act Establishing Stem Cell Center of the Philippines and Strengthening Research on Stem Cell Technology” has also been consolidated with two other similar bills filed by Representatives Eufranio Eriguel (2nd district, La Union) and Anthony Del Rosario (1st district, Davao del Norte).
Ledesma said suggestions from stakeholders who attended the hearing would be taken into consideration before the bill is finalized and transmitted to the plenary.
The private sector proposed that the government should tie up with several hospitals and other medical institutions that have existing stem cell programs, instead of establishing a new stem cell center.
The fund to be used to establish a new stem cell center should instead be used for existing projects, the stakeholders recommended.
“We will take all these suggestions into consideration before the committee finalizes its report and transmit the bill to the plenary,” Ledesma said.
After the bill is transmitted to the plenary, the House Committee on Rules would then schedule it for consideration on second reading.
In his bill, Lazatin wants to establish a stem cell center to tap the vast potential that the technology brings to cure fatal diseases such as cancer and heart attack.
The Stem Cell Center of the Philippines, Lazatin said, will spearhead the research and development of stem cell technology.
The bill provides that the center will also serve as storage area for stem cell technology that it will develop.
“The benefits of stem cell are overwhelming to be just simply ignored by the government, because many Filipinos are suffering from different diseases that could be cured by this medical breakthrough,” Lazatin said.
Lazatin pointed out that many countries have started tapping stem cell’s potential in health and medical research, especially to find solutions to diseases such as cancer, heart attacks and other cardiovascular anomalies, Parkinson’s and different birth defects,” he said.
“The United States, for example, has started research on stem cells, creating an array of scientific advances and medical applications,” Lazatin said.
South Africa followed suit in 2004 by creating a stem cell bank, while China recently passed a legislation allowing research on stem cell.
“Our Southeast Asian neighbor, Singapore, has recently been dubbed as Asia’s stem cell center, with over 40 stem cell research groups in the country,” he said.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on December 14, 2011.