THE House of Representatives committee on appropriations approved on Wednesday, September 9, 2020, the proposed P23.89-billion budget of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for 2021.

DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said they had initially proposed a 2021 budget of P36.269 billion, but the Department of Budget and Management trimmed this down to 23.89 billion.

Dela Peña said the allocations for several new projects under their research and development institutes were not included in their approved budget.

“I would like to call attention to the fact that the Health Research and Development Council which has been very, very busy these past few months [yet] it remains to have a small budget. And I think many of the new projects have not been considered,” Dela Peña told the lawmakers.

The DOST chief added that the budget reduction will likely affect three institutes under the agency, namely, the Philippine Textile Research Institute, Philippine Nuclear Research Institute, and Metals Industry Research and Development Center.

Kabataan Representative Sarah Jane Elago echoed Dela Peña’s call for a higher budget for DOST in 2021.

Elago said the country must pour its support on science and technology projects.

“Nararapat lang na bigyan nating ng buong-buong pagsusuporta ang agham, teknolohiya at pananaliksik dito sa ating bansa,” she said.

House Aappropriations committee chair and Muntinlupa Representative Rufino “Ruffy” Biazon likewise said the country’s research and development must be given additional budget.

“Maliwanag na para sa research and development, dapat mas dinadagdagan pa natin kaysa binabawasan,” he said.

“With significant events in our lifetime, it is clear that science is key, research is a necessity. So tingnan po natin kung madadagdagan [ang budget] sa bagay na ‘yan,” he added.

Pangasinan Fourth District Representative Christopher de Venecia also called for a higher budget for the DOST.

He said the agency was able to “meet its targets” consistently.

“Sana po ‘yung hinihingi nilang budget nitong darating na 2021 ay mabigyan natin nang todo because we have to invest in research and development. It’ is very unfortunate na parati itong na-te-take for granted in relation to other departments,” he said.

DBM representative Leah Muñez said the DOST can source funds from its Grants-In-Aid (GIA) program.

“Doon sa tanong na hindi na consider ‘yung mga research and development projects actually mayroon naman kasing GIA project, puwede naman nilang kunin doon,” she said.

For 2021, the DOST has allocated P1.9 million for capital outlay, P17.67 for its maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE), and P4.3 million for personnel services.

Its science and technology institutes will get P9.69 million.

Of this amount, P133,585 will be given to the Technology Application and Promotion Institute, P1.44 million is allotted to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, and P596,223 will be given to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Science High School will receive P2.67 million while the DOST-SEI merit scholarship program will get P4.74 million and the Science and Technology Information Institute will get P101,245. (SunStar Philippines)