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Vol. XXVI, 3rd Quarter
July–September 2008

Thank you very much, Secretary [Estrella] Alabastro for your introduction.

Our leaders from ASEAN; our local government officials; our partners from the business sector; ladies and gentlemen:
Good morning. Welcome to all our guests from all over ASEAN! It’s an honor for us to host these very important sets of conferences on this very happy 50th anniversary of the Department of Science and Technology. Happy anniversary, DOST!
On this 50th anniversary of our DOST, thank you all for gathering to help further our collective goals of peace, security and sustainable development through science and technology. On the part of the Philippines, to pursue our vision to join the first world in 20 years. We have proclaimed technology as the foundation of future economic development.

Our Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan defines a strategy to further S&T and mobilize our advances through a four-pronged approach: first, enhancing the competitiveness of our 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.

Even as we pursue the vision of reaching first world status in 20 years, we remain focused on solving everyday problems. We are focusing on fighting for the average Filipino. Therefore, we are focused on putting food on the table. To put more money in poor people’s pockets so that they can afford the higher world price of food, the programs of DOST include improving productivity in coconut areas, where we have a million farmers. For instance, we want virgin coconut oil to be as familiar in kitchen cabinets as olive oil.

Through its research projects carried out in various laboratories such as those of DOST’s own Industrial Technology Development Institute and Ateneo de Manila University, the DOST is speeding up the development of physico-chemical and biological studies for virgin coconut oil to ensure its high quality in international and local markets. It is carrying out clinical tests to verify the therapeutic claims for this very simple yet very useful coconut derivative. Another good example of a coconut derivative is a dye that went into this particular dress I’m wearing. So, these are examples of how an indigenous product like coconut can make its mark in this modern day and age.

Our government is investing a special three billion-peso fund in research and development technology between 2007 and 2010, including the Science and Technology complex at the University of the Philippines.

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 growth. Modernization will need, indeed, as we said in our Medium-Term Plan a critical mass of R&D-capable manpower to bring our country to first world status in 20 years. Since last year, a Science and Technology consortium of universities headed by the University of the Philippines has been offering scholarships under our R&D development program for masters and doctoral degrees in Science and Engineering.
In this year’s budget, the DOST received the largest percentage increase -- 51 percent.

Our research and development efforts prioritize food and agriculture, energy, public health, information and communication technology, and the environment, including disaster prevention. National know-how shall advance the three priority Es of our country -- Economy, Education, and Environment.

The best response by the Philippines to the rise in global commodity prices today is: If on the liability side of the national balance sheet we sustain a loss from rising prices of commodities that we import, that is oil and rice, then we should endeavor to generate compensating gains on the asset side through the commodities we can export. This asset side consists of “hard” commodities such as primary products supplemented by “soft” commodities such as outsource business processing under the leadership of our chairman of ICT Secretary Rey Chua.

In the new exciting world of ICT, we now have the Cyber Corridor which encompasses the business process outsourcing centers. This corridor runs the whole length of the country from north to south. It has been configured by the Business Processing Association of the Philippines to include aside from Metro Manila, which is ranked number two next only to Bangalore in International Data Corporation’s list of Top 20 Outsourcing Cities in Asia and the Pacific, we have the 24 next wave centers: Tuguegarao, Baguio, Dagupan, Urdaneta, Cabanatuan, Clark, San Fernando in Pampanga, Subic, Cainta, Bacoor, Santa Rosa, Lipa, Batangas City, Camarines Sur, Legazpi, Iloilo, Bacolod, Dumaguete, Cebu, Leyte, Cagayan de Oro, Davao and General Santos -- that comprises our Cyber Corridor.

To provide the resiliency and redundancy needed to protect our cyber services from interruption, such as what happened for a very short while during the Taiwan earthquake, the new international broadband links of the two telecommunication giants, PLDT in La Union and Globe in Cagayan, both in northern Philippines, will be operational in 2009. So, no tsunami nor earthquake, nothing will interrupt gateway services to the Philippines.

We look at science and technology to do these things only as examples. We look on science and technology to do many other things to put food on the table, to save lives and prevent calamities, to harness renewable and indigenous energy, to cure and prevent illnesses, and to create more high-quality jobs. And I know that all the ASEAN has these same aspirations. So, I thank you all for working together to achieve ‘One Caring and Sharing’ ASEAN community through the empowerment provided by Science and Technology.

Maraming salamat. Welcome to the Philippines.