Salceda sees higher Phl surge in global innovation

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Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda sees a higher surge ahead of the country’s ranking in the global innovation index (GII), boosted by initiatives of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) new legislations supporting science and technology.

The lawmaker hailed the DOST over the Philippines’ recent GII ranking that leaped to 54th place from last year’s 73rd, among 129 countries. The GII results,  co-published by the Cornell University graduate business school INSEAD and the World Property Organization, show the Philippines jumped 19 notched, with an overall score of 36.18 this year from 31.56 in 2018.    

Quoting the report, Salceda noted that as for the output sub-index that captures actual evidence of innovation results, the country’s score increased to 30.68 from 23.98 and its ranking climbed to 42nd from 68th previously or +26 places!

“Among 32 low middle income economies, we are ranked 9th with Vietnam leading at No. 1. The Philippines should use Vietnam as benchmark and aim for top five among LM nations,” he said.

President Duterte last year signed RA 11035 or the Balik Scientists Act, which Salceda had authored, to address the lack of scientists in the country working for research and development, and catch up with its Asian neighbors. It aims to address the lack of scientists in the country, with only about 189 per million population, towards the ideal ratio of 380 scientists per million. 

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), prescribes that for a developing country, there should be 380 researchers, scientists and engineers (RSEs) per million population and the percentage of the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) expenditure on research and development or GERD, should be 1% at least. 

Salceda said the Philippines’ scientific and technological indicators have recently improved significantly based on the UNESCO benchmark. DOST reported that with implementation this year of RA 11035, there is an increasing trend of scientists returning, with 14 in the first two months rhis year, a number seen to reach 70 to 80 strong, well beyond the 60 target for 2019.

The number of RSEs in the country has increased from 180 in 2009 to 270 in 2013, while the budget of the DOST has increased from P5.7 billion in 2009 to P20.8 billion in 2017, with R&D budget allocation increasing from P1 billion in 2009 to P5.8 billion in 2017.

Balik Scientists are science and technology experts residing abroad and who are contracted to return to the Philippines to work and use their expertise at home, in the fields of health, agriculture, aquatic and marine, and energy and emerging technologies.

Aside from the Balik Scientist Program and the Science for Change Program (S4CP) which aims to boost the country’s scientific innovations and inventions, research and development towards social progress, and global competitiveness,Salceda had also authored various science and technology bills, among them the Philippine Space Agency Act, now enrolled and awaiting its RA number, and is co-author of the National Innovation Act.

In January this year, the House of Representatives had approved on third and final readingAnother Salceda bill, the “Comprehensive Nuclear Regulation Act” (HB 8733) which seeks to establish a comprehensive nuclear reg,ulatory policy framework and create the Philippine Nuclear Regulatory Commission (PNRC). 

PNRC will be a single and independent nuclear regulatory body that shall exercise authority over all aspects of safety, security, and safeguards on concerns involving nuclear materials and other radioactive materials, facilities, and radiation generating equipment. It will also lead the way in nuclear innovation.

The Science for Change Program (S4CP), he explained, provides DOST a framework that gives special focus on “science and technology education, training, and services” and supports “indigenous, appropriate, and self-reliant scientific and technological capabilities, and their applications to the country’s productive systems and national life.”Its proposed budget outlay could initially reach P672 billion by 2022  and is deemed an “essential tool for national development and progress.” 

Salceda said he sees upcoming GII results to be better, as the creation of new science high schools and expansion of science scholarships and consortium with private firms should further lift the Philippines’ ranking. 

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