THROUGH the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program, the United States government has expressed support for the Philippines in countering biological and chemical security threats.

In a series of meetings with the Philippine government from July 27 through August 2, the U.S. government discussed current and future initiatives to reduce biological threats and build chemical security capacity in the Philippines.

DTRA representatives met with officials from the Department of Health, Department of Agriculture, Department of Science and Technology, and Department of Home Affairs and Local Government.

According to the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines, the meeting was intended to discuss a five-year capacity-building program for biological threat reduction and chemical security, the development of a laboratory network at the sub-national level, and potential future chemical safety training opportunities. and biological risk management.

The Embassy noted that over the next five years, the CTR program will support activities aimed at improving inter-agency systems, communication and other capabilities to prepare the Philippines to prevent, detect, track, report, respond and secure. biological threat agents and security chemicals. worry.

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DTRA CTR Program Manager Michelle Nalabandian said they were proud to be a partner in the multi-year effort to jointly combat biological and chemical security threats.

“We value our longstanding partnership with interagency partners in the Philippines and look forward to continuing to work together on threat reduction efforts,” Nalabandian said.

The officer in charge, Dr. Reildrin Morales of the Bureau of Animal Industry, stressed the importance of improving the capacity of the veterinary services in the Philippines.

“[The CTR Program] will strengthen the BAI Animal Disease Reference and Diagnostic Laboratory to prevent and control the entry and spread of cross-border animal diseases that could pose a threat to the country’s agricultural economy,” Morales said.

A US government program, the CTR Biological Threat Reduction Program (BTRP) has been a partner of the Philippine government since 2016. It has concluded a five-year project to renovate seven regional animal disease diagnostic laboratories spread across the Philippines in 2021.

The embassy said these facilities have increased the Philippines’ ability to detect and diagnose endemic and emerging diseases in the country and have played a vital role in the local response to African swine fever, avian flu and Covid. -19.

Another US program, DTRA’s Chemical Security and Elimination (CSE) program, is also working with the Philippine government to build a national training center and create a chemical security program in the country.

The Embassy noted that since 2018, the CSE program has engaged with the Philippine government and the National Chemical, Biological, Radioactive and Nuclear Response Team on strategic trade management, chemical transportation security and development of a national list of chemicals of safety concern. .

The DTRA enables the US Department of Defense, the US government and international partners to counter and deter weapons of mass destruction and emerging threats, the embassy added.