MANILA — Sen. Richard Gordon on Wednesday said the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) should fight for a higher budget in 2022 to boost the Philippines’ research and development sector, saying the agency could create the country’s “highway for the future.”
Gordon said research and development have become an important sector for any country.
“In the field of industry, DOST could be the guide [of other agencies]. . . ‘Di kayo nararamdaman eh, (you are not felt) we have to make your presence felt. And I feel that DOST should be given much more money because they should be doing that sort of thing... They will provide for us the highway for the future because science and technology is always a big deal,” Gordon said during the Senate’s plenary debates on the proposed national budget.
Sen. Joel Villanueva, who is tasked to defend DOST’s budget, said there are currently some constraints on the department’s research and development activities because a huge part of its budget proposal was not approved by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
“Only 66 percent of the total amount of budget that they asked for [was] approved by DBM. Last year... some P283 million of their budget, of R&D (research and development) alone, even the entire big pie that was taken from DOST ang ginive up nila therefore affected and kanilang R&D (they had to give up, therefore their R&D was affected),” said Villanueva.
The DOST’s Research and Development budget is pegged at P7.3 billion for 2021, he said.
Some senators also called for an increase in the department’s budget, highlighting the need to allot funds for research and development amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gordon said research programs should be made sustainable for the development of the country.
“It should really be a sustainable program from now on… to become a scientific nation, a nation of scientists, a nation of people who can make medicine, who could compete with the rest of the best of the world with coming out with vaccines. I don't think it is an ambition we should deprive ourselves with,” he said.
Science Secretary Fortunato Dela Peña in September lamented a lower budget for the department’s research and development institutes, citing the agency’s slash in funding.
Among the institutes getting cuts for next year are the Forest Products Research and Development Institute, Metals Industry and Development Institute, Philippine Nuclear Research Institute, and Philippine Textile Research Institute.