gilbert lumantao policy research office
CFG-PRO Director Gilbert Lumantao delivered the Opening remarks to the Thursday Talks conducted last 29 April 2021 with 138 new and returning participants from the Philippine Congress

The DAP Center for Governance-Policy Research Office launched its Thursday Talks Webinar Series under the 2021 Capability Building on Innovative Leadership for Legislative Staff (CBILLS) Program last April 29, 2021. The first installment of the Thursday Talks entitled “Road Towards Herd Immunity: Where Does the Philippines Stand?” had speakers from University of the Philippines – Philippine Genome Center, the Department of Health, and the Asian Development Bank.

Dr. Marc Edsel Ayes from the UP – Philippine Genome Center described the implications of the emerging COVID variants in public health policies and the current vaccination program of the government. He stressed the need to reach herd immunity thru vaccination as we move forward to live with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The concurrent Director of Health Promotion and Communication Service and Disease Prevention and Control Bureau of the DOH, Dr. Beverly Lorraine Ho, said that the Philippines could achieve herd immunity by working hand-in-hand with non-government organizations (NGOs) and the private sector. She said that it is vital to have shared ownership in disseminating COVID-19 response strategies and verified information. She cited current examples of online materials and traditional media used to convey information and guides for medical and non-medical heads and local government leaders.

Lastly, Dr. Eduardo Banzon, Principal Health Specialist from the Asian Development Bank shared his insights on the socio-economic effects of the pandemic especially on badly hit industries such as the tourism sector. He pointed out the need to look into the possibility of yearly vaccinations and its impacts on the current vaccination strategy of the country and the COVID-19 situation in five years.

Top L-R: Dr. Beverly Ho from the Department of Health and Dr. Eduardo Banzon from Asian Development Bank. Bottom L-R: Dr. Mark Ayes from UP Philippine Genome Center and Dr. Albert Domingo, a health systems specialist served as the webinar moderator. Photo collage by Natalie Joy Narciso

The Thursday Talks, implemented from June to November 2021, is one of the three components under the 2021 CBILLS Program that aims to broaden participants’ perspectives on key trends in socio-political and economic spheres of the country and deepen their understanding of these impacts on governance.

CBILLS Program learners may access the talks through the Zoom platform while the non-CBILLS participants and the public can participate in the webinar through the live stream from Policy Research Office Facebook Page at – written by Jeannine Tan, edited by Maria Rosario Ablan