Filipino scientists have stressed that in order for the Philippines to develop a strong science culture, the country must develop strong educational foundation on the university level, get bigger government support, and overhaul its procurement process.
In a press briefing held on Monday, July 25, three of the four 2016 scientists honored by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said the government and stakeholders must combine forces to help the country develop a sturdy and vibrant science culture.
Dr. Roel Suralta, a recipient of the Eduardo Quisumbing Medal, said the legislative sector can play a big role in fostering research and development in the country by introducing changes in the procurement law.
“The Philippines must make the procurement law less complicated. Under the current setup, it will take a Filipino scientist one year to finish a research program while a similar program performed Japan will be finished in one month and at 50 percent lower in cost,” he said during the press briefing.
Although Filipino scientists can have the option to conduct their research partner overseas if they cannot source the funding in the country, Suralta, who was recognized by the DOST for his significant contributions to crop science research on root plasticity in rice under soil moisture fluctuations, said it will be the partner-donor who will benefit from the research of Filipino scientists.
Dr. Junie Billiones, a faculty member of the Health Sciences Center of the Philippines in UP Manila, urged legislators to simplify the procurement process to enable Filipino researchers to maximize the funds available for research and development.
“Even though the Philippines has the money to fund our research, we cannot use because it can’t be dispensed in the proper time because of the tedious process of the current procurement law,” said Billiones, an Eduardo Quisumbing Medal awardee for his “pioneering studies on ‘Computer Aided Discovery of Leads against the Druggable Targets of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.'”
Dr. Alonzo Gabriel, a full professor of food science and nutrition at the Department of Food Science and Nutrition, College of Home Economics, UP Diliman, said the goal to build a well-developed science-centric starts from the schools.
“Aside from revamping the procurement law, government must lay down the foundation by training teachers to become better mentors in science,” said Gabriel, this year’s recipient of the Julian Banzon medal for his “outstanding research on “Precision Food Processing.”
Meanwhile, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said he will work together with the DOST to help the country establish a science culture.
“Ever since my elementary days, I always wanted a more Filipino scientific community for the Philippines. Ever since I have given speeches, I have always called for the establishment of a science culture in the Philippines,” said Pimentel, a summa cum laude mathematics graduate of Ateneo de Manila University and a topnotcher in the 1990 bar examinations, in his video message.
He said the establishment of a scientific culture is quite important for the country because it will lead the country to an evolutionary path to development. “This means we are going to pursue a peaceful not revolutionary means to progress,” said Pimentel.
Pimentel said a science-oriented culture will teach Filipinos to be more analytical and critical in their thinking. “Let them analyze their data and come up with conclusion based on empirical data. Let our people learn to decide with objectivity,” he said.