Manila– On February 21, the Philippines and the United States governments inaugurated the National Virtual Training Center (NVTC) in Silang, Cavite that will improve and expand the training of public health personnel, veterinarian health workers, and first responders in addressing biological and chemical threats.

Designed, constructed, and equipped through funding from the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s (DTRA) Biological Threat Reduction Program (BTRP) and Chemical Security Elimination (CSE) Program, the NVTC is a multi-million 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. Through the NVTC, the Philippines will enhance its 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).

“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 Philippines Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Serafin Barretto Jr., National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) Director General Ricardo De Leon, Philippine Public Safety College (PPSC) President Ferdinando Sevilla, and representatives from the Department of Health, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Office of the President, 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,” NICA Director General 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 (CBRN) threats and free from WMDs”.

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.

DTRA’s BTRP and CSE programs are working with Philippine government agencies to develop an operational framework to ensure the facility promotes long-term, sustainable threat reduction efforts.

“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 added. (PR)