To enhance its disaster preparedness and risk management capabilities, the government should take a cue from big, successful companies: invest big on research and development (R & D).
On this note, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson pushed for bigger investments in R & D, which he lamented accounts for only a minuscule 0.4 percent of the national budget.
“Science entails research. Science can greatly help especially during disasters. Yet, why do we appropriate only 0.4 percent on the average for R & D?” said Lacson, who chaired a Senate hearing on disaster management last Wednesday.
Lacson noted science and technology can have a great impact on efforts to deal with disasters – from tracking cyclones and mapping high-risk areas to developing better ready-to-eat meals as well as methods to ensure the health and hygiene of evacuees.
Yet, for the P4.1-trillion 2020 national budget, he noted the government initially proposed a mere P16.1829 billion for R & D – or just 0.39 percent of the entire budget. From 2016 to 2019, R & D accounted for only between 0.34 and 0.46 percent of the entire national budget.
In contrast, he noted a multinational technology company reinvests as much as 15 percent of gross earnings to R & D to keep up with new developments in technology.
“Even if we bump up the percentage to 1 or 2 percent of the national budget, I’m sure this will mean a lot to agencies such as the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) and Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA),” Lacson said.
For the 2020 budget, Lacson proposed R & D budget hikes for the Department of Science and Technology, including a P100-million increase for the Space S&T Program: Space Technology and Applications Mastery, Innovation and Advancement (STAMINA4Space) and a P50-million increase for the Science for Change Program.
“I believe the government can do much more if we enhance R & D,” he said.