Editorial: Strengthening our science and technology institutions

SINCE the start of the year, the Philippines has been facing one challenge after another. Taal Volcano erupted, African Swine Fever (ASF) affected more areas in the country, and the threat of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

The Philippines is no stranger to disasters, natural or man-made. It also has proven that it is able to recover after disasters. The government has implemented efforts to capacitate local government units and the communities in dealing with disasters. But it is also time for the government to invest more in science and technology as a means to mitigate or prevent future disasters.

A lot of science is in play with the Taal Volcano eruption, African Swine Fever, and Covid-19.

In a study conducted by Reid Basher, consultant and external research affiliate of the Joint Centre for Disaster Research at the Massey University in Wellington, New Zealand, she said application of science and technology in disaster risk reduction and management “can substantially reduce losses of lives and property.” Her report entitled “Science and Technology for Disaster Risk Reduction: A review of application and coordination needs” is commissioned by the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR).

The Philippines had its fair share of experiences when it comes to using and technology in disaster risk reduction. According to the Disaster Risk Reduction in the Philippines Status Report 2019 of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), “Philippines has made significant progress in collecting comprehensive and updated risk information using different technological tools including GIS, Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (IfSAR), computer simulations, and fault mapping.”

Despite criticisms by some politicians, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has shown its expertise during the Taal Volcano eruption and series of earthquakes in 2019.

However, with the new challenges like the ASF and Covid-19, it is time for the government to strengthen the development of science and technology in the country to be able to mitigate the impacts of these challenges and create new strategies.

Probably, by investing in science and technology, the government is able to craft a better response towards disasters similar to what the country has experienced. It is through science and technology that it will be able to better understanding on the threats surrounding the nation and allow it to take a more proactive and effective response.

Through investing in science and technology, including empowering the scientific community in the country, it may even find cures to diseases affecting both humans and animals.

Unfortunately, in the P4.1-trillion General Appropriations Act for 2020, the Department of Science and Technology will be getting only P20.1 billion. This is also lower than its 2019 budget of P20.26 billion. The government may want to increase its support to DOST and the other arms of the government that is involved in research and development.

History has shown how science and technology helped advance a nation. Maybe if our government invest more in this rather than some trivial matters, the Philippines could become a stronger and self-sufficient nation.


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