The United States government is supporting the construction of the Php 130 million ($2.4 million) National Virtual Training Center (NVTC) to enhance the capability of Philippine law enforcement personnel to respond to chemical security threats.
Representatives from the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program and the Philippine Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) led the groundbreaking ceremony of the NVTC at the Philippine National Police Academy in Silang, Cavite on February 2.
“The COVID-19 outbreak paved the way for us to recognize the importance of the NVTC facility to provide an institutionalized national training capacity and surge capacity for both biological and chemical training courses,” DILG Undersecretary for Public Safety Serafin Barretto Jr. said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “There is a pressing need to bring technical knowledge and expertise on implementation of chemical security and biological threat reduction program. This is a significant milestone for all of us.”
“We believe the NVTC will not only help improve the Philippines’ national capabilities, but also assist with sustaining these capabilities by developing professional cadres for years to come,” DTRA CTR Program Manager Michelle Nalabandian said.
Once complete, the NVTC will serve as an advanced training and practical laboratory facility that will offer courses on diagnostics, surveillance, and biosafety and biosecurity; biosafety cabinet certification; basic and advance biosafety officer training; and managing chemicals of security concern, among others. The DTRA CTR Biological Threat Reduction Program and Chemical Security and Elimination Program are supporting the construction of the facility, providing equipment, and contributing to curriculum development.
The NVTC will be owned and administered by the Philippine Public Safety College, with governance oversight by the Chemical, Biological, Radioactive, and Nuclear (CBRN) National Team—an advisory body composed of Philippine government officials and experts who guide policymaking on CBRN concerns in the country. The Center is expected to be operational by January 2024.