Press Release
November 23, 2010

Sponsorship of the FY 2011 National Budget
November 23, 2010
Senator Edgardo J. Angara

The recent financial crisis severely damaged the world's leading industrial economies. But if any lesson can be learned from such a painful episode, it is this: developing countries that built up their technological capacity weathered the financial tsunami.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said in a new report that emerging industrializing countries have challenged the technological dominance of the United States, European Union and other Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries before the economic recession hit, and have continued to do so after the crisis.

Asia, with China at the forefront, led recovery worldwide and is showing no let-up in R&D intensity. Brazil, India, South Africa and some Gulf states continue to demonstrate aggressive scientific and technological development.

Knowledge and innovation are proving to be no longer the monopoly of developed countries - developing countries are showing that they are equally capable not only to capitalize on it, but also create knowledge-intensive growth.

Mr. President, it is amid this distinct, evolving global landscape that I draw the attention of the Members of the Senate to a critical issue that could help usher the country toward a new era of growth.

The Philippines was one of a handful of countries that kept relatively strong economic growth throughout the global recession. But as the world's fastest growing economies have shown, it is not merely enough to stay afloat. It is more pressing now than ever to ensure that the country has the capability to create knowledge and harness innovation.

This is why I call for firm and consistent funding for education, in particular science and technology, as well as research and development. It's almost commonplace to say that science and technology is crucial to our national life and development. Yet that is absolutely true. Our country cannot hope to catch up with our highly competitive neighbors and galloping population unless we leapfrog development through science and technology.

Our shortcomings in competitiveness largely stem from our S&T inadequacy. We should create a critical mass of scientific knowledge and personnel through the proposed national budget for 2011 so it can truly deserve its claim of being a Reform Budget.

To attain this, we will first make sure that the Department of Education is sufficiently staffed. We will fund the hiring of 20,000 new teachers, 10,000 more than the original proposal. We could build more classrooms and buy more books, but teachers are at the heart of the educational system more than the physical structures.

I believe that Filipinos would benefit from two additional years of basic education but I also believe there are challenges to this plan that need to be discussed further and widely. Hence, I propose the creation of a bicameral oversight committee to provide a platform for continuing dialogue on this significant educational reform.

The Philippines is alarmingly lacking in Master of Science (MS) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) holders in science and engineering, with only one in every 54,060 Filipinos. The Congressional Commission on Science & Technology and Engineering, which I chair, found out that in comparison Germany has one (1) PhD holder per 3,316 people, the United States has one per 6,533 people, and Japan has one per 11,621 people.

In addition, the number of scientists and engineers involved in R&D in our country is only 152 per 1 million people, which is less than half of the ratio recommended by the United Nations to attain sustainable development.

The ERDT will make sure that the Philippines can generate more MS and PhD graduates especially in ICT, semiconductor and electronics, energy, food and health, environment and infrastructure.

We will also inject R&D funding into selected state colleges and universities (SUC's) across the country so knowledge and innovation can be harnessed as optimally as possible.

However, of our 112 SUC's, many admit to not having the capabilities to conduct scientific R&D. We will take a two-pronged approach to this problem. First, we will make available scholarships and fellowships for clearly defined fields of study to develop human capital. Then, we will initially concentrate R&D funding on SUC's with the facilities, personnel and track record for quality R&D to maximize our resources.

At the same time, we will cultivate S&T as early as possible by helping the Philippine Science High School complete additional campuses in Region 4-A and 9, as well as provide the budget for undergraduate scholarships through the Science Education Institute, including fellowship grants to Taiwan and Korea in accordance with our educational exchange agreements.

From the academe, we will step up S&T development to the national and industrial levels through the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). We have formed the Philippine Industrial Research Development Institute to further boost the competitiveness of the country's electronics and semiconductor industry. We will also fund the Renewable Energy and Research Development Institute that will make sure the Philippines does not fall behind global efforts to shift toward low-carbon technologies, and see to it that we can take full advantage of our rich natural resources for sustainable energy production.

Typhoons that have devastated the country and the livelihood of our people have made it imperative for us to fund the modernization of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). The country needs to be equipped with the best forecasting capabilities to be able to adequately prepare and mitigate natural disasters. We will establish the Philippine Disaster Science Center to help safeguard national security and eventually become a regional hub for disaster science.

Mr. President and distinguished Members of the Senate, the World Bank itself has said that our 2011 national budget could mark a decisive turning point for our country. This so-called reform budget is well positioned to resume fiscal consolidation and improve spending efficiency. Let us see to it that any gains that could be had from these would translate to tangible economic gains and social benefits for Filipinos, primarily through education and knowledge.

Mr. President, I hereby respectfully submit the budgets of the following agencies: the Department of Education, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Trade and Industry and all their attached agencies, State Universities and Colleges, as well as the budgets of other executive and cultural offices, with the hope that the 2011 national budget will receive expeditious approval.

Thank you.

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