Exodus of scientists from Philippines not just a budget problem — group

Jun. 08, 2007

There’s little to do for scientists locally without national industries, says AGHAM

MANILA — “Even with the nominal increase of around P839 million in the budget slated for science and technology in 2007, the Philippines would still be facing a brain drain because it has no domestic industries to absorb the highly skilled scholars and engineers it can produce,” said activist scientists from AGHAM or the Samahan ng Nagtataguyod ng Agham at Teknolohiya para sa Sambayanan.

Dr. Giovanni Tapang, national chairperson of AGHAM, pointed out that the budget given for scholarships and buildings was still small given that the science and technology budget is still way below the targeted UNESCO requirements of around 2% of a country’s GDP.

“The government’s track of depending on foreign investments and exporting our agricultural products and raw materials is stunting the growth of local industries. These local industries could have benefited from the expertise of Filipino scientists and at the same time provided them with opportunities where they can exercise their knowledge and skills”, said Dr. Tapang.

“Even if you increase the DOST budget and produce a lot of research output, if the only companies that will be able to use them are foreign-owned and controlled, there will be no direct benefit for the Filipino people from our scientists’ discoveries”, explained Dr. Tapang.

“Take for example the current drive for foreign investments in mining, where most of the activities involve only extractive activities for export with very little processing. If we had local downstream industries to process these ores then we would be able to add more value to our products and use it to build structures for our nation’s benefit”, Dr. Tapang asserted.

“One crucial factor that keeps our science and technology stunted is our dependence on imported goods and the export orientation of our industries which does not leave a place for a highly trained scientist to flourish”, stressed Dr. Tapang.

“We cannot just increase the number of our scholars without ensuring that there are local industries that will absorb them. Going abroad or working for foreign companies becomes a default since the government has surrendered our economy to foreign interests”, lamented Dr. Tapang.

“The government should comprehensively address this problem. Increasing the science and technology budget is one thing, but sustaining this support after elections and genuinely building our local industries seems to be a low priority for this administration”, concluded Dr. Tapang.###

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