Group fears continuing exodus of RP scientists
THE SAMAHAN ng Nagtataguyod ng Agham at Teknolohiya para sa Sambayanan (AGHAM) said the Philippines will continue to lose its best scientists unless it has national industries that accommodate their skills. And the problem, as described by the activist organization of scientists, cannot be solved even by the recent increase in budget to P839 million for the science and technology community. AGHAM national chairperson Giovanni Tapang said in a statement that the budget provided for scholarships and construction of scientific facilities is way below the standard set by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which is a two percent budget allocation from a country's annual gross domestic product. Tapang noted that even an increase in budget for the Department of Science and Technology would have little or no direct benefit to Filipinos. This is compounded by the fact that research materials by Filipino scientists are from companies that are owned and controlled by foreign entities. Tapang also said that increasing the number of scholars would be useless unless they are assured of possible employment in local industries. "One crucial factor that keeps our science and technology stunted is our dependence on imported goods and the export orientation of our industries which does not leave a place for a highly trained scientist to flourish," Tapang said. For example, investments in the mining industry in the Philippines are more on extraction of ores, instead of processing the ores to get into the raw materials. Tapang said the government should build downstream industries to support the larger mining companies in order to give more jobs to Filipino scientists. "The government's track of depending on foreign investments and exporting our agricultural products and raw materials is stunting the growth of local industries. These local industries could have benefited from the expertise of Filipino scientists and at the same time provided them with opportunities where they can exercise their knowledge and skills. It should comprehensively address this problem," Tapang said.
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