MANILA — Presidential candidate Ka Leody de Guzman on Monday said he will prioritize and raise the budget for the science and technology sector, should he win as president in the May 2022 polls.
In an online interview with members of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space in the Philippines (SEDS PH), De Guzman said the government has allotted only a small amount to the sector for the past few years.
“Ako’y nagtataka na kung bakit ang ating gobyerno’y napakaliit ng pagpapahalaga dito sa science and technology, pagdevelop n'yan. Napakaliit ng budget na ibinibigay ng ating pamahalaan diyan kaya stagnant yung mga sistema natin sa ating pagkain, sa manufacturing…kahit sa health, importanteng-importante pero wala silang binibigay,” he said.
The Department of Science and Technology currently has a budget of P24.268 billion, which is roughly half of a percent of the P5.024-trillion national budget for 2022.
For De Guzman, this is not enough.
“Naku, malayong-malayo, hindi sasapat. Kulang na kulang. Yang budget na yan ng walang pagpapahalaga sa pagdevelop ng science and technology dito sa bansa dahil ang katwiran nila, lahat ng ating pangangailangan e iniimport na. Bakit pa tayo magpapaunlad nyan?,” he said.
“Kaya parang token ang halaga ng budget na inilalagay, huwag lang masabing walang budget,” he added.
The sector, he said, is key to the country's economic recovery as it is vital in reviving manufacturing and creating our own industries so we are no longer dependent on importation.
He, however, did not mention any specific amount but said it should be raised to match the amount for developing our food production and reopening of own industries.
The labor leader plans to invest in research and development so the Philippines can develop its own vaccines.
“Nakakaawa tayo. Mag-aantay tayo ng matagal na panahon para makakuha lang ng vaccine. Tapusin muna yung ibang bansa. Pag may natira, tsaka tayo bibigyan. Nagkakamatay na ‘yung ating mga mamamayan, bumabagsak na dahil sa COVID, e, wala tayong magawa,” he said.
“Kinakailangan talaga mag-invest tayo sa research and development at kung may kaakibat na kinakailangan yung makinarya o machine na kailangan nung gamit at vaccine e mag-invest din tayo. Gawin natin ang lahat ng yun nang sa ganun, tayo na ang gagawa ng gamot,” he added,” he added.
He also intends to give incentives to investors and science and technology workers to prevent brain drain, as well provide commensurate salaries and benefits, and improve our won manufacturing, health and farming sectors — sectors which, he says, all need science and technology.
PROJECTS HE WILL OPPOSE
De Guzman however said he will oppose certain projects and discontinue reliance on industries that destroy the environment.
Among them, the Kaliwa Dam project, which he said will not only destroy the environment but also reeks of corruption.
“Wawasakin nya yung ating lugar dyan. Banta yan sa kaligtasan ng ating mga mamamayan. Maraming ma-eevacuate, maraming madidisplace na mamamayan natin. Maraming malulubog na mga lugar at barangay,” he said.
“Tapos napakamahal. May korapsyon akong naaamoy dyan sa proyektong yan dahil may nag-ooffer naman na mas mura kaya nagtataka ako bakit pinipilit na mas mahal ang kunin,” he explained.
Different groups have opposed the Kaliwa Dam project, intended to provide a new water source for Metro Manila’s increasing water needs.
They pointed out 150,000 people in villages in Tanay, Rizal and General Nakar, Quezon will be displaced by the project.
The P12.2-billion project is funded by official development assistance from China but some observers have pointed out there was a cheaper proposal from Japan.
De Guzman said he also opposes open-pit mining and advocates for the passage of the National Land Use Act to determine which areas are off-limits to mining.
To achieve net zero carbon emissions in the country, he said he aims to lessen dependence on coal and fossil fuels and will ban coal-fired power plants.
But De Guzman is not eyeing nuclear technology as an alternative to coal and fossil fuels either.
“Mahirap na yung Pilipinas na napaka-atrasado ay siyang sasabak ng nuclear energy gayung yung mga bansa na napakalayo ng advance sa atin sa science and technology ay nasisingitan pa ng ganyang aksidente, mas delikado,” he said.
He explained nuclear technology is expensive, dangerous and takes a long time to build compared to renewable energy which is cheaper, cleaner, and more labor-intensive which will translate to more jobs for Filipinos.
Should he be elected, De Guzman said he will appoint personalities aligned with his policy of shifting to renewable energy.
He mentioned the names of UP professors Ed Tadem and James Miraflor as well as activist Liddy Nakpil.
EXCISE TAX ON FUEL
Asked to comment on the response of vice presidential candidates on the issue of excise tax on fuel in Sunday night’s Comelec debate, De Guzman said he agrees with runningmate Walden Bello's answer that beyond removing excise tax on fuel, the government should resort to price control.
“Dapat magkaroon ng price control. ‘Yun ang napapansin ko sa ibang presidential at vice presidential candidates, kahit sa Presidente. Para bang takot na takot silang salingin yung kita ng mga kartel ng langis. Gusto nila, magkakasya na lang sila sa alisin yung excise tax at saka yung VAT. O kaya naman ayuda na lang,” he said.
“Ang maganda doon kay Walden, price control at para magkaroon ng price control, i-repeal yung [oil] deregulation law. Kasi ang hirap nyan, deregulated, hahayaan mo ang mga kartel ng langis na siyang magtatakda ng presyo. Ay siyempre negosyo yan. Ilalagay niya yan sa pinakamataas,” he added.
“Tama si Walden na dapat i-repeal yung deregulation law, nang sa ganun, magkaroon ng regulasyon, magkaroon ng kapangyarihan ang gobyerno na kontrolin ang presyo ng produktong petrolyo. Hindi pwedeng suggested retail price,” he concluded.
Oil companies last week implemented an oil price hike of about P13.15/liter of diesel and P7.10/liter of gasoline.
They are expected to reduce fuel prices by P11.45/liter for diesel and P5.45/liter for gasoline on Tuesday.