Press Release
February 4, 2009

Investments in R&D sector more needed amid crisis

Senator Edgardo J. Angara today said that we should take this Global Financial Crisis as an opportunity in order to invest on Research and Development efforts in order to provide immediate jobs and industry in this time of crisis and prepare for the morning-after rebound scenario.

"We are currently in the midst of a worldwide recession that threatens many economies, including ours. Already many of our countrymen abroad are getting laid-off from their jobs, and locally many of our export oriented industries like electronics are feeling the pinch.. Now, we ask ourselves, is it time to invest our money on R&D? My answer to that is yes because we cannot afford not to invest," said Angara who chairs the Senate Committee on Science and Technology.

He added, "Whenever tough times like these come, we can consider it either as a problem or as an opportunity. So in moving forward during these troubled times, this is a good time as any to change our mindset, and view this situation more positively and constructively in order to incubate a local scientific and technology industry, through research and development (R&D) and technology transfer. But key to all this talk about building high tech industries is a robust R&D sector."

In the December 2008 issue of Science magazine, a prestigious publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, it was reported that the Philippines is spending around $81m yearly on R&D. He said that "this may seem like a big figure to some", but in the worldwide context of things it is quite small.

Based on the recommendations of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), countries especially developing countries like the Philippines should spend at least one percent of a country's GDP should be allocated to R&D.

Also, according to the World Economic Forum's 2008-2009 Global Competitiveness Report, the Philippines ranked 76th among 131 nations in the field of innovations. This is highly based on a country's R&D initiatives and outputs.

Angara noted that this time of crisis is one instance which we can take as an opportunity to move forward is in developing our domestic technology industries and jobs.

High technology industries, in the semiconductor and electronics field are mostly export oriented doing low value added labor. Although the figure from the industry is around $31bn worth of exports annually, much of this is really the value of the equipment and materials that were imported to make these products, and not really the local content.

Congress, upon Angara's initiative, has setup the bicameral Congressional Commission on Science & Technology and Engineering (COMSTE) to tackle RP's lack of competitiveness in science and technology R&D.

COMSTE is tasked to look at ways to boost R&D spending, keeping in mind that the desired end result should be local industry and job creation, as well as the competitiveness of our products and services.

Several key observations have been shared in the meeting, most notable of which is the fact that there is no overall coordination that is happening on this limited amount we are spending on R&D.

There are some redundant activities, and in some areas there is no activity. Instead of complementing efforts, we are competing with each other. That is not the way to move forward.

In today's meeting COMSTE panel members also pushed for two significant institution reforms. The first is the full operation of the Renewable Energy Research Institute, established under the Renewable Energy law. The second is the establishment of an R&D institute patterned after Taiwan's successful Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), as an incubator of industrial innovation.

"We need to pour our efforts and resources in a few key areas, work together, with the ultimate end of industry and job creation from our R&D efforts. That is the call of the times, and it will be sheer folly not to heed it," he added.

News Latest News Feed