At the hearing on the proposed 2021 budget, Sen. Lacson stressed the need for greater government support for research and development, especially in the fight against COVID-19. He also raised questions on:
* Information that PhilHealth is not getting full allocations from the sin tax
* Why P30B in COVID-19 response funds remain undisbursed
* NEDA’s ‘Resiliency’ planning
Dahil siyensiya at teknolohiya lamang ang tamang gabay para malutas ang mga problemang dulot ng pandemya gaya ng COVID-19, isinulong ni Senador Panfilo Lacson ang pagtatag ng isang institusyong tutuklas sa mga solusyon para sa sakit na ito.
Sa ilalim ng Senate Bill 1543, layon ni Lacson na itatag ang Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines (VIP).
Ayon kay Lacson, kada araw ay patuloy sa pagtaas ang bilang ng mga nahahawaan ng COVID-19. Sa Pilipinas lamang ay hindi bababa sa 873 na ang kumpirmadong namatay. Dahil din dito, nagkaroon ng malawakang suliraning panlipunan at pang-ekonomiya ng bansa.
“These problems can only be addressed using science and technology, specifically through research and development (R&D). It is therefore imperative that we establish a Research Institute that delves into the study of viruses of the field of virology. The country needs diagnostics to detect and limit the spread of the existing viruses; vaccines to provide long-term protection; treatments to save lives in the shorter term, and social science to understand their behavioral and societal implications,” paliwanag ni Lacson sa panukala.
Stressing the importance of science and technology in addressing the problems caused by novel viruses such as the coronavirus, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson has filed a bill establishing the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines (VIP).
Lacson, in Senate Bill 1543, noted the current COVID-19 pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus has infected more than five million and killed more than 340,000 worldwide, including 14,319 infected and 873 dead in the Philippines alone.
Worse, he said the health crisis from COVID-19 has resulted in widespread social and economic crises, “the impacts of which are devastating, especially to the poor.”
“These problems can only be addressed using science and technology, specifically through research and development (R&D). It is therefore imperative that we establish a Research Institute that delves into the study of viruses of the field of virology. The country needs diagnostics to detect and limit the spread of the existing viruses; vaccines to provide long-term protection; treatments to save lives in the shorter term, and social science to understand their behavioral and societal implications,” Lacson said in his bill.
I hope the National Economic and Development Authority can fast-track the implementation of the National ID system, as directed by the President.
NEDA should have ample help from the Philippine Statistics Authority as the frontline agency, and the Department of ICT which plays a major role.
The first question is, is the system ready to accept registrants? If so, they should give priority to the marginalized sector, and those targeted for financial assistance because of the COVID-19 crisis.
We only need to look at how much the most prosperous countries spend on R&D to see why we are among the laggards. Even if we bump up the percentage to 1 or 2 percent of the national budget, it would make a major difference.
In an interview on DZBB/GMA News TV, Sen. Lacson stressed at least P200B in assistance to poor families affected by the COVID19-triggered quarantines should be distributed soonest, with scrutiny from the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee.
Placing the entire country under a state of calamity is timely and rational, and thus deserves the support of the Filipino people. For one, it will allow the local government units as well as the national government agencies to utilize their calamity funds and Quick Response Fund, in accordance with Republic Act 10121 and other pertinent laws.
Having said that, I cannot imagine that concerned local government officials in charge of dispensing those funds can still have gall and malevolent intention of stealing the monies under their control, considering the seriousness of this unprecedented crisis that we are all facing.
Further, the government, for all its disaster preparedness and response efforts, cannot overcome the threat by itself. We must all do our part, whether as workers rendering frontline services, scientists developing ways to deal with the problem, or responsible Filipinos giving support to them while showing understanding and cooperation with measures from the national government and local government units.
There is no doubt we will survive this, as we have done in so many crises before.
I have repeatedly raised the issue of the minuscule budgetary allocation for research and development (R&D) in the national budget year in, year out – an average of, lo and behold, 0.4% of the annual budget from 2016 to 2020, including 0.39% for 2020. For the same five-year period, the DOST’s average budget is only P20 billion or a meager 0.56% against the trillions of pesos that we pass every year as our national budget. This, even as I consistently amended the budget measure by augmenting the budgets of the Department of Science and Technology and its programs. For 2020, I sought a P50M increase for NICER, P100M increase for STAMINA4Space and a P100M increase for CRADLE; as well as P537.991M for UPLB’s National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology.
This should be a wake-up call for our government officials who do not invest in research and development (R&D) through the budget, but instead are supplier-friendly “shopaholics” who choose to shop or buy from their “favorite” suppliers.
If only the kudos and support that our local scientists richly deserve, especially during these trying times, would be translated into increased support from our government.
Science entails research. Science can greatly help especially during looming disasters such as COVID-19. It is high time our government throw its support behind our homegrown scientists.