PH needs more scientists: NAST

By Ma. Cristina Arayata

July 12, 2019, 10:12 am

MANILA -- The National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), in its annual scientific meeting from July 10-11, concluded that the country needs more researchers, and an improved government procurement process is vital to achieve this.

NAST is mandated to advise the President on matters related to science and technology. The meeting also served as an avenue for members to discuss what the country needs, issues to be addressed, and gather suggestions or resolutions.

According to NAST member and academician William Padolina, the country needs researchers to address various issues such as the growing population, planning and implementing a sustainable inclusive economy, the challenges in carrying capacity, sustainable global competitiveness, and the effects of environmental degradation and climate change. 

Outstanding Young Scientists, Inc. (OYSI) president Merlyn Mendioro said the Philippines only has 189 scientists per million, whereas the ideal ratio is 380 per million population.

In a previous interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA), Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato dela Pena explained that the problem actually is more on the job opportunities available for Filipino scientists.

The Department, he said, could produce the Master of Science (MS) and PhD graduates, but needs financially rewarding job opportunities here. He noted that for instance, not all government plantilla positions, as well as enterprises, require MS and PhD graduates.

Among the resolutions presented by NAST on Thursday is the need to improve the procurement process. 

Dela Pena also mentioned this earlier, saying there are times when delays in projects occur because of the procurement process in the Department of Budget and Management.

He also noted that there are times when the auditors from the Commission on Audit have different interpretations of policies.

Josefino Comiso, scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, earlier told the PNA that the "bureaucratic impediments" hinder researchers to acquire the tools and equipment they need on time. 

This, he said, makes it sometimes impossible to get a proposed research program to be completed on time.

The resolutions or recommendations from the scientific conference will be sent to the national government. 

Dela Pena on Thursday commended the 12 new members, awardees of the OYSI, an organization of young scientist awardees under NAST.

These scientists work in various fields such as molecular endocrinology, agricultural engineering, and pharmaceuticals, among others.

He encouraged NAST to recognize more scientists and their works. (PNA)