Lacson hits P76-M cut in DOST’s research budget: ‘Why so selfish?’
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Panfilo Lacson on Thursday lamented the P76-million cut in the research and development budget of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), saying why so selfish in providing boost to the country’s research and development.
During the Senate’s budget deliberation on the proposed P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021, Lacson stressed that the government should invest more in research and development.
Under the proposed budget for 2021, DOST’s budget for research and development was reduced to P2.411 billion from P2.488 billion in 2020.
“Is it our policy to allot a negligible portion of the national budget to research and development? Bakit napakadamot natin sa research and development?” Lacson asked the government’s economic team. (Why are we so stingy when it comes to research and development?)
The senator said the government tends to resort to the importation of supplies instead of procuring local ones.
“We are a nation of shoppers, ‘pag kailangan ng [personal protective equipment sets], i-import tayo. ‘Pag kailangan natin ng face masks, import. Pag kailangan ng face shield i-import. Pag sa vaccines naman nagmamakaawa tayong mabigyan ng konting prioridad, nakikiusap tayo sa ibang bansa,” he said.
(When we need PPEs we import. When we need face masks, import. When we need face shields, let’s import. When it comes to vaccines, we appear like we are begging to get a little priority, we are asking other countries.)
“I don’t think we have a dearth of native talent among scientists and technology experts,” he added.
He pointed out that even the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs underscored the importance of science and technology, especially during the pandemic.
Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado told senators that the entire budget of the DOST has actually increased by 16 percent from P20.523 billion in 2020 to P23.89 billion under the proposed 2021 budget.
He also said the government has allocated P238 million for the establishment of the Virology Science Technology Institute and another P66 million for the country’s participation in the international solidarity clinical trial for the COVID-19 vaccine launched by the World Health Organization.
But Lacson pointed out that the bill proposing the creation of a Virology Science Technology Institute has not even been tackled in the Senate yet.
“Maraming iffy’s ‘yan kasi kapa-file lang ng bill…Kung ‘di maipapasa ang batas creating the Virology Institute ng DOST, babalik lang sa Treasury ang P283 million,” the senator said.
(That’s still pretty iffy because the bill had just been filed… If we can’t pass the law that creates the Virology Institute of the DOST, the P283 million will just go back to the [national] Treasury.)
Further, Lacson said that an average of only 0.4 percent of the total national budget goes to research and development efforts across all government departments and agencies.
“Sayang yung mga homegrown talents natin kung ‘di natin susuportahan dahil for all we know baka tayo naman ang mag-e-export ng ma-create natin at maimbento ng ating mga technology experts and scientists, instead of relying all the time on imports,” he said.
(We are just wasting our homegrown talents if we do not support them, because for all we know one day we are the ones exporting something that our technology expert and scientists have created and invented, instead of relying all the time on imports.)
Avisado agreed with Lacson’s view.
“I hope as a policy decision sana maglaan tayo ng mas kaunting halaga pa para mag-invest tayo sa research and development natin,” Lacson added.
(I hope we set aside some amount to invest in our research and development.)
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.