Press Release
November 22, 2011


Senator Edgardo J. Angara called on the government to prioritize the development of biotechnology in the Philippines in his keynote speech at the opening of the National Biotechnology Week (NBW) at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Diliman, Quezon City.

During his speech, Angara outlined the major programs and initiatives for economic development which he initiated as Secretary of the Department of Agriculture from 1999 to 2001.

According to Angara, one of his first goals was to build up human capital by creating a graduate and postgraduate scholarship program for the best and the brightest agricultural scientists and technologists.

"We set aside half a billion pesos so that they can study abroad through this program which is tied in with the internationally renowned Fulbright scholarship," explained.

Second was another P500 million allocation for the training and continuing education of the country's biotechnologists.

"At the time, we had a respectable number of biotechnologists. Unfortunately, we were lacking in labs and equipment so we allotted another half a billion pesos for the needed facilities," said Angara.

His third major initiative as Agriculture Secretary was the improvement of the quality of livestock through genetic development.

"A large percentage of the food needs of our country comes from meat products. To address this need, we tried to upgrade the quality of livestock in the Philippines through genetics," recalled Angara.

However, most, if not all, of these programs have been discontinued after Angara's term. The veteran legislator called upon DENR Secretary Ramon Paje, who headed the NBW celebrations, to once again focus on these three initiatives so that the sector can see genuine progress.

"We have been left behind by Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia's rapid technological advances in this field. Bolstering our capability on biotechnology is the key to improving our nations's overall economic performance, putting us on a par with our neighbors in Southeast Asia," he said.

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