President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Wednesday called on Filipino scientists to stay in the country and share their expertise with the younger generation as he vowed to support their research and development (R&D) initiatives.
“I urge you to stay in the country as you pursue your career. We will continue to support you and continue to look to you to be active partners of the government. Let us dedicate our knowledge and skills, and work harmoniously so as to uplift the lives of our countrymen,” Marcos said in a speech during the 2022 National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) opening ceremony at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.
Marcos underscored the important role of Filipino scientists, researchers, inventors, and innovators in generating new knowledge and devising better strategies to safeguard and advance the well-being of Filipinos.
He, however, also recognized that many research ideas, particularly in the food and agriculture industry, are not immediately integrated into government programs.
“What [Department of Science and Technology Secretary] Dr. [Renato] Solidum [Jr.] and I discovered is that there are many research institutions that are doing really remarkably food research however problem that we are finding is that research is not directed. Everyone has their own program, has their own projects. It’s not their fault. They’re studying what they are interested in,” he said.
Marcos said it was the government’s job to “give direction” so that R&D outcomes are immediately useful to farmers; businessmen; micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and citizens.
“I’ve spoken to some of the researchers and some of those administering research institutes around the country not only agriculture but all kinds of other R&D, and they’re willing to take direction from us, from the private sector as to what are the necessary technologies for the Philippines in terms of improving well again climate change mitigation adaptation and our foods supply, our economic transformation all of these things,” he said.
He said his administration will “wholeheartedly” support their R&D solution to the country’s problems, especially in agriculture and trade.
“The administration assures you our firm commitment to championing science and technology research, developing data-driven and science-based policies, and implementing evidence-based responses supporting your community,” he said.
More scholarships, stronger STEM program
Marcos urged the DOST and their partner institutions to provide more scholarships to Filipino students to develop a bigger pool of scientists, researchers and innovators in the country.
“Through this, we will institute a scholarship program specifically for STEM students and this will not be limited to those who have shown their capabilities, their ability, and how they deserve these scholarships here in the Philippines but to any institution that they are accepted to abroad,” he said.
He also called for improvements in the country’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) program, citing the need to become more globally competitive.
“Unfortunately in the Philippines when we are graded alongside our neighbors in Asia, in ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations], do not do very well when it comes to the STEM subjects and that is what we need to encourage. The material I can see is available. It is just a question of us incorporating it into our curricula, it is just up to us to give it an emphasis because in every aspect the STEM subjects have become terribly, terribly important,” he added.
Marcos said the government must provide opportunities for scientists to learn new skills because science and technology will determine the country’s success in the coming years.
“Whereas before we train people to be carpenters and plumbers and electricians and construction workers. Now the training is in computer science, it is encoding, it is block chain technology, it is computer engineering,” he said.
Marcos also tipped his hat off to his father, the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr., for institutionalizing NSTW through Proclamation No. 2214.
“Through the decades, this celebration has continued to create a platform for professionals, for administrators, for policymakers, and for students to converge and collaborate in order to harness the power of science and technology — solving many of society’s problems, finding opportunities for growth and for development,” he said.
Enhancing quality of life
Meanwhile, Marcos acknowledged the efforts of the DOST and its attached agencies for continuously implementing programs that create solutions to address the country’s pressing problems such as food security, job creation, health education and climate change adaptation, among others.
“Every time we speak of any subject, we can talk about agriculture, we can talk about public works, we can talk about tourism, every subject, sumisilip yung subject ng climate change (the subject of climate change peeks through), it affects everything and everyone and so once again we look to science, we look new technologies, we look to engineers to find us solutions to mitigate, to adapt our very vulnerable country to the effects of climate change,” he said.
Among these valuable innovations, he said, are the DOST’s GeoRisk PH, the country’s platform for data gathering, sharing, and analyzing hazard and risk information, and the CRADLE and SETUP programs, which are designed to help companies as well as MSMEs improve their products, processes and service to boost their productivity and competitiveness.
“Your efforts do not only generate development opportunities for young scientists, they contribute to our shared goal of enhancing the quality of Filipino life,” he added.
He lauded the DOST for organizing the 2022 NSTW exhibits and activities that aim to educate, encourage, and enhance the skills of scientists, inventors, and advocates.
“That is another very important part of the mission that you are having to fulfill is to get the information disseminated so that people know what might be applicable or useful in their own community situations. So I hope this year’s celebration will be a beacon of hope for all Filipinos to bounce back better by building upon science, technology, and innovation,” he said.
Before his speech, Marcos also visited the techno-exhibits which featured prototypes of e-tricycle and e-jeepney.
This year’s NSTW focuses on research and development (R&D) projects and services related to agriculture, food security, health, environment, water and blue economy, and job creation. (PNA)