S4CP bill must be given priority: DOST exec

By Ma. Cristina Arayata

August 5, 2021, 7:50 pm

<p>DOST Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara <em>(Photo courtesy of DOST)</em></p>

DOST Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara (Photo courtesy of DOST)

MANILA – An official of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) on Thursday said the Science for Change Program (S4CP) must be a priority bill, as this would provide guaranteed funding for research and development (R&D) and establishment of niche centers.

"It should be a priority bill. Without substantial R&D funding, (the Philippines) will forever be in a catch up mode on developing technologies for the people's needs, from responding to a pandemic, to making our agricultural and manufacturing sectors more competitive," DOST Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara told the Philippine News Agency.

The bill, which aims to address the disparity in R&D funding in the regions and the lack of R&D in the private sector, hurdled the House Committee on Appropriations on Aug. 4.

Guevara said the measure seeks for the establishment of the S4CP, and guarantees funding for the succeeding years.

"This way, R&D funding will increase yearly, until 2 percent of the GAA (General Appropriations Act) is achieved as an R&D budget. Currently, it is at 0.47 percent," she said.

With a guaranteed funding for the S4CP, she said more niche centers could be established, and more "RD leaders" could be deployed to universities, institutions that need them.

"RD leaders" are tasked to help higher education institutions (HEIs) increase their published works in journals, their patents and other innovative products. They will also guide the HEIs in their research and in improving their laboratories.

Meanwhile, the DOST noted that S4CP as a program, has achieved various scientific outputs since 2016.

The DOST has funded 38 niche centers in the regions for R&D (NICER) in 17 regions, with a funding of PHP1.89 billion for universities and R&D Institutes (RDI).

At least 42 "RD leaders" were deployed in 16 regions to share their expertise and promote regional development, the DOST added.

Guevara said the Economic Development Cluster (EDC) headed by the Department of Finance pushed for the approval of the S4CP bill.

"The EDC members see the importance of investing in R&D for economic and social development," she said. (PNA)