Thursday, July 10, 2008

KGMA News 7/10/08 S&T

Roxas City -- It's "eureka" time for the science and technology sector
with the national government now giving it greater attention.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, keeping the momentum of her goal to
make the Philippines reach First World status in 20 years, announced
that the government is investing a special P3-billion fund in research
and development (R&D) technology between 2007 and 2010 including the
Science and Technology complex at the University of the Philippines
(UP) headed by scientists from the Association of Southeast Asian (ASEAN).

President Arroyo said this is to promote engineering R&D activities in
the country at a significant scale in order to modernize every aspect
of the economic underpinnings of the Philippines to propel economic

The message was conveyed by the Chief Executive at the July 7 opening
of the 8th ASEAN Science and Technology Week and National Science and
Technology Week and 50th DOST anniversary celebration in Metro Manila.

The special fund is in line with the S&T strategy in the Medium-Term
Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) which seeks to further S&T and
mobilize advances through a four-pronged approach: first, enhancing
the competitiveness of the human capital; second, developing a
critical mass of scientists and R&D personnel; third, speeding up
knowledge creation and dissemination to push productivity; and fourth,
improving the mechanisms that promote technology-based entrepreneurship.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is at the forefront of
this effort.

One of present concerns wherein S&T would be harnessed is ensuring
food on the table for Filipinos and putting more money in poor
people's pockets so that they can afford the higher price of food.

The programs of DOST include improving productivity in coconut areas,
wherein there are a million farmers, and harnessing alternative
products from coconut including virgin coconut oil (VCO).

The agency is speeding up the development of physico-chemical and
biological studies for VCO to ensure its high quality in international
and local markets. "We want virgin coconut oil to be as familiar in
kitchen cabinets as olive oil," stressed the President.

Through research projects carried out in various laboratories such as
those of DOST's own Industrial Technology Development Institute (ITDI)
and Ateneo de Manila University, the DOST is also carrying out
clinical tests to verify the therapeutic claims for this very simple
yet very useful coconut derivative.

In this year's national budget, President Arroyo pointed out that the
DOST received the largest percentage increase – 51 percent. She added
that R&D efforts will prioritize food and agriculture, energy, public
health, information and communication technology, and the environment
including disaster prevention. These shall advance the three priority
Es of the country – Economy, Education and Environment.

She emphasized that modernization will need a critical mass of R&D
capable manpower to bring the country to First World status. Since
last year, an S&T consortium of universities headed by UP has been
offering scholarships under the R&D program for master's and doctorate
degrees in Science and Engineering.

DOST is also granting the DOST-Science Education Institute Scholarship
for college and at the Philippine Science High School to deserving
students. Scores of students in Capiz have already availed of the
scholarship program. The Capiz National High School also has a Special
Science and Technology Class to encourage the youth to pursue S&T.

Likewise, DOST said it is ready to help inventors who have developed
new processes, products and gadgets that would help push the S&T
sector and contribute to economic development. (PIA-JSC)

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