The National Ethics Committee was created through the DOST Special Order 84-053 series of 1984, an initiative of the then Executive Director, Dr. Alberto G. Romualdez, Jr. to promote ethics review in health research. Tasked to ensure that all biomedical researches involving human participants conform to international ethical principles and standards towards respect for the sanctity of life and dignity of person, NEC put together the first set of national guidelines for the conduct of biomedical research in 1985. In 2010, the NEC was temporarily phased out (DOST Special Order # 383) only to be reactivated on 9 December 2013 because of the pressing need for a national body to review researches which are of national importance. Its functions were clarified as follows:
- Ethics Review of research proposals that:
- are referred by other agencies especially government-funded researches that are to be conducted in institutions that do not yet have their own Research Ethics Committees (REC);
- directed to NEC by the Philippine Health Research Ethics Portal (PHREP);
- the NEC may deem appropriate to review.
- Assist Institutional RECs in the resolution of difficult ethical issues.
- Provide input to the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) and other government agencies including Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA), regarding ethical issues in relevant studies.
- Provide applicable information to PHREB in the formulation of policies and guidelines in health research.
- Network with other national ethics bodies (i.e. National Bioethics Advisory Committee (NBAC), National Transplant Ethics Committee (NTEC), Philippine Genomics Center - Ethical Legal Social Issues Program (PGC-ELSI) in contributing to the development of an ethical research environment.
The NEC is envisioned to be an essential component of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development and the Philippine National Health Research System depicted in the organogram below: