Press Release
July 12, 2011


Senator Edgardo J. Angara called on the government to use science and technology as one of its chief poverty-alleviation measures.

Speaking at the Novartis Biotechnology Leadership Camp yesterday, an annual gathering of young biotechnology and life sciences students and graduates, Angara emphasized the need to improve the country's scientific and technological capacity to boost national competitiveness which, in turn, would stimulate wealth and job creation.

He explained, "The Philippines' competitiveness, as measured by international rankings, slips every year or improves only marginally because of lack of technological capacity.

"The government has to realize that technological R&D is a critical tool for economic growth because it enables a country to produce innovations that would improve overall productivity, whether in manufacturing, agriculture, services or healthcare," added Angara.

The lawmaker said that keeping to a business as usual attitude will have little effect in denting poverty. "A gross domestic product growth rate of 5 percent on average every year is not enough. We need to grow consistently by at least 7 percent to lower poverty incidence from about 40 percent to 15 percent."

Angara noted that the Philippines has to keep up with the increasing competitiveness of its Asian neighbors in order to capitalize on emerging trends showing that growth and wealth will be centered in Asia this century.

Citing studies by the European Commission and the Asian Development Bank, Angara said that S&T and R&D are the only way by which the Philippines will prevent being left behind.

"In the next two or four decades, the world's economic production will shift toward the East: 30 percent of global output is forecasted to be produced in Asia by 2025 and 51 percent by 2050.

"However, the coming era is unlike the era of capitalism. The future generation will have to manage scarcity, instead of abundance - scarcities in food, fuel, water, and even healthy air," he said.

"How will we manage scarcities for 120 million Filipinos by 2020," said Angara, "will depend on how technologically capable we are."

The Congressional Commission on Science, Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), which Angara chairs, is a proponent of the Engineering Research and Development for Technology (ERDT).

The ERDT provides master's and doctoral scholarships in the fields of information and communications technology; semiconductor and electronics; energy; environment and infrastructure; and agriculture.

Angara stressed that, "The most strategic way to combat poverty and prepare for future challenges is by building up our human capacity, specifically by rebuilding a critical mass of scientists, technologists, researchers and engineers who will lead us into an increasingly fast-paced, high-tech world.

"Failure to do this will be like shooting ourselves in the foot. Scores of Filipinos stand to lose the most," he said.

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