By Junex Doronio
MANILA — ENVISIONING A NATION OF SCIENTISTS, Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon on Thursday urged for a bigger budget for the research and development projects of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) which 2021 funding was slashed by P76 million.
“The Philippines can be a nation of scientists; a nation that can develop medicines to cure illnesses; a nation that can compete with other countries,” Gordon said as he stressed that the DOST should be provided with a bigger budget.
He lamented that from ₱2.488 billion for R&D (research and development) institutes under the 2020 General Appropriations Act, the approved funding for the agency’s sector was reduced to ₱2.411 billion for 2021— equivalent to a budget cut of more than ₱76 million under the National Expenditure Program (NEP).
Earlier, DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said the reduction will affect the operations of some R&D programs, including those from the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI), the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) and the Metals Industry Research and Development Center.
PTRI Executive Director Celia Elumba said communities in the regions which have been relying on textile as primary means of livelihood during the pandemic will be largely affected.
“Magkakaroon ng impediment sa pagpapatuloy ng services, yung support na mabibigay namin sa kanila (commmunities) kasi kailangan namin ng technologies to help them,” Elumba said.
For his part, PNRI Executive Director Carlo Arcilla also said additional funds were supposed to help Filipino cancer patients through nuclear technology and other related resources.
“Every year, 70,000 po ang namamatay sa cancer and a [way to diagnose them early] is nuclear CT scans. Magtatayo po sana kami ng nuclear medicine facility and ang initial part po niyan ay nabawasan po,” Arcilla claimed.
In his bid to prevent brain drain, Gordon pointed out the importance of helping the DOST.
“This is not an ambition of which we should deprive ourselves. The DOST must be provided with a bigger budget. Otherwise, we will forever be sending brilliant Filipino workers and scholars out of our country,” Gordon said. (AI/MTVN)