Martin House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez (left) chats with Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato De La Peña (right) and Philippine Council for Health Research and Development Executive Director Dr. Jaime Montoya (2nd right) during a courtesy call and short meeting at the Majority Office after the 2022 Budget Briefing of the DOST at the House of Representatives. De La Pena and Montoya updated Romualdez on their current projects to boost the fight versus the new COVID-19 variants pandemic in the country. Photo by VER NOVENO

Romualdez assures S4CP bill passage

September 2, 2021 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 367 views

HOUSE Majority Leader and Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin G. Romualdez has assured the swift passage of the proposed Science for Change Program (S4CP) Act of 2021 to achieve a higher standard of science, technology, and innovation (STI) in the country, including the “mandatory” use of publicly funded technologies by national government offices.

Romualdez, chairman of the House committee on rules, responded to the appeal of Science and Technology Sec. Fortunato “Boy” Tanseco de la Peña to pass the bill during the latter’s courtesy call Wednesday night at the Majority Leader’s Office at the Batasan in Quezon City.

“We are committed to prioritize the passage of the Science for Change Program bill with dispatch because research and development will help accelerate social progress,” said Romualdez, president of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD), adding that prioritizing the development of STI will foster patriotism and development.

“The House of Representatives led by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco recognized that science and technology are essential for national government and progress,” said Romualdez, a lawyer from the University of the Philippines (UP) and president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa).

De la Peña defended the Department of Science and Technology’s (DoST) P24.338-billion proposed budget under the P5.024-trillion national budget next year, which is three percent lower than its 2021 budget of P25.188 billion.

Other DoST officials who joined de la Peña in a short meeting with Romualdez were Dr. Rowena Christina Guevara Undersecretary for Research and Development; Assistant Secretary Maridon Sahagun; Dr. Jaime Montoya, Exec Director Philippine Council for Health Research and Development; Dr. Eric Paringit, Executive Director Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development; Dr. Reynaldo Ebora, Executive Director Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic Research and Development.

Under the proposed law, all national government agencies (NGAs), government-owned-and-controlled corporations (GOCCs), state universities and colleges (SUCs), and local government units (LGUs) performing science and technology development projects shall mandatorily adopt publicly funded technologies that are feasible and practicable.

The bill harmonizes the National Research and Development Agenda (HNRDA) or the outcome-based agenda where all research and development  programs and projects funded by the government are envisioned to contribute to the attainment of the majority of government’s key result areas, particularly responding to poverty reduction and empowerment of the poor and vulnerable; rapid, inclusive, and sustained economic growth; and integrity of the environment and climate change adaption and mitigation.

The DoST, in consultation with government research institutions and other agencies concerned, shall formulate a harmonized HNRDA, which is directly related to the priorities under the Philippine Development Plan.

The House committee on science and technology is still finalizing the final S4CP version of the still unnumbered substitute measure, which is a consolidation of several bills.

Some of the authors of the bill are Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor, Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas, Deputy Speaker and 1-Pacman party-list Rep. Mikee Romero, Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan, Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro, ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Eric Yap, Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, Ang Probinsyano party-list Rep. Alfred Delos Santos, Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo, Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento, Cavite Rep. Francis Gerald Aguinaldo Abaya, Panagasinan Rep. Christopher V.P. De Venecia, Negros Occidental Rep. Francisco “Kiko” Benitez, Marikina City Rep. Stella Luz A. Quimbo, Batangas Rep. Elenita Milagros “Eileen” Ermita-Buhain, Bukidnon Rep. Manuel F. Zubiri, and many others.

The S4CP seeks a higher standard of STI to contribute to the development of the economy and society and to the improvement of the welfare of the nation through prescribing the basic policy requirements for the promotion of STI and comprehensively and systematically promoting policies for the progress of STI.

The measure pushes research and development to come up with new products and technologies, solve pressing national problems, increase productivity, generate new knowledge and improve capability in new and emerging technologies.

SMALL BUDGET ON PAG-ASA

During the budget briefing, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) Administrator Vicente Malano lamented that the modernization program of the agency will be affected by its meager budget.

Malano assured that his agency will continue to work hard to ensure the people’s safety from typhoons and other forms of weather disturbance.

“Syempre ‘yan ay makakadelay din sa ating modernization implementation, but in terms of accuracy of our forecasts, ginagarantiya naman ng PAGASA na ito ay mapapanatili natin at mai-improve pa sa kasalukuyang level,” Malano said.

Malano said PAGASA was only given P1.385 billion under the National Expenditure Program (NEP) from their P3.048-billion budget request for 2022.

“’Yung aming request for 2022 is P3.048-billion. Ang nandito po sa NEP is P1.385 billion. Ang dahilan ay walang na-approve na budget for projects which include infra or may component na infrastructure,” Malano said.

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