Senate approves bill creating energy think tank

THE Senate on Wednesday, February 26, approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to establish the country’s first energy think tank to be called the Philippine Energy Research and Policy Institute (Perpi).

Senate Bill 1296 establishes the think tank which aims to perform critical research and policy development for needed reforms in the energy sector.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, main proponent of the measure, said he envisions Perpi to stand at the forefront of the Philippine energy research and policy development, as “an institution solely devoted to these pursuits,"

According to Gatchalian, there are about 48 research institutes in the US, 13 in Germany, nine in Australia, 15 in the United Kingdom, and 11 in India.

Gatchalian pointed out that having a local energy research and policy center may help insulate the country from supply shocks as a result of global geopolitical events by conducting studies on short term and long term policies on energy security.

The research institute, which will be located inside the University of the Philippines (UP), will have an initial funding of P200 million.

According to UP Vice President for Academic Affairs Maria Cynthia Rose Bautista, it is important for the Perpi to have independent research bodies.

“Given that independence is very important in our country, we would like to ask for the institute to maintain its independence so that research endeavors will not be constrained by any political affiliation or technological bias,” Bautista explained.

“We in UP are very grateful, this should have been done years ago, but now it’s here.” She added.

Gatchalian clarified that the UP President will be given the authority to appoint the executive director based on the recommendation of the Advisory Council.

“The fundamental logic of why we’re pushing for this bill is really to have a research institute that can compliment or at least provide check and balance to government policies,” he said.

“The conversation of technology for me is not only a political conversation, but also a basic necessity for everyone. We have been hearing that even the talk on nuclear power is a very political discussion. It also has risks to national security. We need an independent body that will give us independent pieces of adivce, policies, and research not to criticize,” Gatchalian said.

As an independent, multidisciplinary institution, Perpi shall ensure that its research endeavors shall not be influenced or constrained by political affiliations, technological bias or other presuppositions.

Co-authors of the bill are Senators Joel Villanueva, Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, Ana Theresia "Risa" Hontiveros, and Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa. (SunStar Philippines)


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