Press Release
October 19, 2010


Senator Edgardo J. Angara called on the government to use science and technology (S&T) to engineer resilience into energy, agriculture and health systems and help the country grow and remain competitive even when confronted by natural calamities.

"We have to utilize the tools that S&T gives us in order to create a more resilient nation. We are often left at the mercy of typhoons and natural disasters, but with the proper approach we can lessen the impact of these events by being equipping ourselves with the tools to be better prepared," said Angara.

Disaster Management Training Center

Angara, Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), said that the establishment of the Disaster Management Training Center (DMTC) should be a national priority since the center could train officials from the National level to Local Government Units (LGU's), including NGO's in scenario-type situations.

The DSMC is set to be a public-private initiative that the scientific community can use to understand the mechanics of managing disasters with the cooperation of neighboring countries like Taiwan and Japan, who have experienced similar storms and natural calamities as the Philippines.

The Center would also incorporate initiatives such as a proposed Wave Alarm System, which would monitor wave energy and give advance warning for potential incoming tsunamis and the use of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) satellite imagery from their Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). The information is free and accessible due to the recent purchase by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) of a MODIS receiver.

The project was identified by the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Agriculture panels of COMSTE, as part of a plan to deliver basic services such as decision support systems for the agricultural and rural sectors, and improving services delivery to the poor and far-flung areas.

COMSTE has prioritized the creation of the DMTC and is working with the Manila Observatory (MO) to finalize proposals for its foundation.


"Typhoon Juan has threatened the rice supply of the nation. Almost every time we are hit with a storm, our food supply is threatened. We need to become more resilient as these disasters come yearly," said Angara, amidst initial Department of Agriculture (DA) reports estimating that 105,000 tons, or 10% of Cagayan valleys annual crops have been damaged. Cagayan contributes 12% of the country's production.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) reported that approximately PHP 5 Billion worth of damage was wrought on the agricultural sector from typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng last year. The storms also disrupted the nation's rice supply, forcing then President Arroyo to initiate imports to avert a shortage.

Angara pointed out that a joint study by Columbia University and the World Bank entitled 'Natural Disaster Hotspots: A Global Risk Analysis', which identifies countries which are at high risk for six major natural hazards: earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, floods, drought, and cyclones, has the Philippines pegged as one of riskiest countries in the world.

Angara noted that the Presidential Coordinating Council on Research and Development (PCCRD) identified the development of food and non-food crop varieties for high yield, quality and nutritional value and at the same time, able to adapt to unfavorable environments and pests and the development of enhanced systems that will minimize adverse environmental effects as key national priorities for 2010-2016.

Angara, chair of the Congressional Commission on Science Technology and Engineering (COMSTE) cited a report from the commission stating that in terms of R&D spending, the Philippines accounted for less than 3% of the total expenditures of the regions expenditures during 1981-2000 and that the number of R&D agencies has not grown significantly since 1996.

Angara said that the productivity level of the agricultural sector has been growing by 4% in the last four years, but is not growing at a pace to match the needs of the growing population.

A 2005 study by Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) showed that for rice to meet a growing populations needs, a 3.5% average growth rate in production is needed, which is almost 3 times higher than the growth rate of the rice in the 1990's.

The same study also indicated that the country has a "productivity crisis" in agriculture and agricultural research, development and extension (RD&E). The Philippines agricultural intensity ratio from the mid-1990's until now is at 0.4%, as compared to neighbors like Malaysia 1.1% and Thailand 1.6%. The underinvestment in agricultural R&D is believed to be one of the main reasons why the Philippines does not compare well with other countries in the region in terms of yield and productivity for almost all crops.

To be competitive the research intensity ratio of 0.4% should be raised to 0.75% by the end of the year and up to 1.5% by 2020.

Angara said that even with the improvements in agricultural R&D since the 1990's, there is still a need to pursue the strengthening of R&D systems, institutions, facilities and human resources.

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