“With the national elections, it is crucial to convey to candidates the role of science and technology in national development and progress.”
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – How can you benefit from the upcoming elections? How can change for the better really start to happen with the coming elections?
Every election campaign, Filipinos are bombarded with the most glowing promises, the highest sounding brags about which Filipino dreams will come true once a certain group of politicians are voted in power.
But to Filipino scientists, youths, users and purveyors of technology, there is one thing national and local candidates can and must vow to do, that may indeed help the economy grow and lead more Filipinos toward development. They said the government can and must cooperate in developing science and technology – with the people as the priority. For that to happen, it said, the current crop of candidates have to be truly after the development of basic national industries as the cornerstone of any genuine development in science and technology.
In attendance at a press forum last week by AGHAM (Advocates of Science and Technology for the People) were experts, science and technology workers, researchers, students, and science advocates who came together to point out many specific examples of highly flawed government actions that undermined science and technology and its huge potentials for uplifting the Philippine economy. They are seeking to change that.
They pressed candidates to include science and technology in their platform –not in lip service generality, but in concrete ways that Filipinos will feel on the ground.
Feny Cosico, Secretary General of AGHAM, said that “With the national elections, it is crucial to convey to candidates the role of science and technology in national development and progress.”
With her were experts of various ages and experiences, whose life work showed how government could have improved science and technology and helped its citizens, but instead did the opposite or did nothing.
Their program, called ‘Science and Technology Agenda 2016: Developing a Genuine S&T for the People’, hopes to gather the sentiments of people in the science and technology sector and consolidate their calls and aspirations into a unified platform.
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From AGHAM’s experiences in pushing the government to prioritize the people in its mining policies, projects in power and transport industries, reforestation and working at disaster response and rehabilitation, AGHAM’s Cosico has come to a conclusion that “Our capacity to make use of science and technology to improve the quality of life of Filipinos has been hampered by lack of government support and a sustainable program to make technological development accessible and beneficial for the masses.”
To advance science and technology that serves the interests of the people, Filipino scientists should receive proper education and training, said JM Ayuste, spokesperson of Agham Youth-PUP. But, citing his school as example, he said it is highly doubtful we can achieve that with only one laboratory per 1,325 students in their public elementary and high schools.
He said it is not encouraging for students to pursue science when “in state universities like the PUP, students are forced to conduct their science experiments in hallways in the absence of working laboratories.”
AGHAM is seeking to elevate the country’s science and technology problems into important electoral agenda that the people can use to gauge the vote-worthiness of candidates. For Ayuste of Agham-Youth, pursuing that should start with the government supporting science education.
In summary, some of AGHAM’s calls and demands for candidates to take up include: Increased support for research and development; Strengthening science and technology (S & T) education and raining; upholding S & T workers’ rights; Upholding agricultural modernization and advancing national industrialization.
In the coming elections, Cosico said scientists, researchers, engineers, science workers, students, technologists and advocates will be keeping a watchful eye on candidates’ platforms and programs.