House Majority Leader Martin G. Romualdez has assured the swift passage of the proposed Science for Change Program (S4CP) Act of 2021 to achieve a higher standard of science, technology, and innovation (STI) in the country, including the mandatory use of publicly funded technologies by national government offices.
Romualdez, representative of Leyte’s first district and chairman of the House committee on rules, made the assurance in response to the appeal of Science Secretary Fortunato de la Peña to pass the bill during the latter’s courtesy call Wednesday at the Majority Leader’s Office at the Batasan in Quezon City.
“We are committed to prioritize the passage of Science for Change Program bill with dispatch because research and development will help accelerate social progress,” said Romualdez, president of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD), adding that prioritizing the development of STI will foster patriotism and development.
“The House of Representatives led by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco recognized that science and technology are essential for national government and progress,” said the lawmaker, a lawyer from the University of the Philippines (UP) and president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa).
De la Peña defended the Department of Science and Technology’s P24.338-billion proposed budget under the P5.024-trillion national budget next year, which is three percent lower than its 2021 budget of P25.188 billion.
Other DoST officials who joined de la Peña in meeting Romualdez are Dr. Rowena Christina Guevara Undersecretary for Research and Development; Assistant Secretary Maridon Sahagun; Dr. Jaime Montoya, Executive Director, Philippine Council for Health Research and Development;
Dr. Eric Paringit, Executive Director, Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development; and Dr. Reynaldo Ebora, Executive Director, Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic Research and Development.
Under proposed law, all national government agencies (NGAs), government-owned-and controlled corporations (GOCCs), state universities and colleges (SUCs), and local government units (LGUs) performing science and technology development projects shall mandatorily adopt publicly funded technologies that are feasible and practicable.
The bill harmonizes the National Research and Development Agenda (HNRDA) or the outcome-based agenda where all research and development programs and projects funded by the government are envisioned to contribute to the attainment of the majority of government’s key result areas, particularly responding to poverty reduction and empowerment of the poor and vulnerable; rapid, inclusive, and sustained economic growth; and integrity of the environment and climate change adaption and mitigation.
The DoST, in consultation with government research institutions and other agencies concerned, shall formulate a harmonized HNRDA, which is directly related to the priorities under the Philippine Development Plan.
The House committee on science and technology is still finalizing the final S4CP version of the still unnumbered substitute measure, which is a consolidation of several bills.
Some of the authors of the bill are Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, Reps. Mike Defensor of Anakalusugan, Alfred Vargas of Quezon City, Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero of 1-Pacman, Joey Sarte Salceda of Albay, Angelina Tan of Quezon, Fredenil Castro of Capiz, Eric Yap of ACT-CIS, Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City, Alfred Delos Santos of Ang Probinsyano, Roman Romulo of Pasig, Edgar Mary Sarmiento of Samar, Francis Gerald Aguinaldo Abaya of Cavite, Christopher de Venecia of Pangasinan, Francisco Benitez of Pangasinan, Stella Luz Quimbo of Marikina City, Elenita Milagros Ermita-Buhain of Batangas, Manuel Zubiri of Bukidnon, and many others.
The S4CP seeks a higher standard of STI to contribute to the development of the economy and society and to the improvement of the welfare of the nation through prescribing the basic policy requirements for the promotion of STI and comprehensively and systematically promoting policies for the progress of STI.
The measure pushes research and development to come up with new products and technologies, solve pressing national problems, increase productivity, generate new knowledge, and improve capability in new and emerging technologies.
During the budget briefing, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) Administrator Vicente Malano lamented that the modernization program of the agency will be affected by its meager budget.
But Malano assured that his agency will continue to work hard to ensure people’s safety from incoming typhoons and other forms of weather disturbance.
Malano said PAGASA was only given P1.385 billion under the National Expenditure Program (NEP) from their P3.048-billion budget request for 2022.