Scientist group AGHAM – Advocates of Science and Technology for the People expressed their frustration with President Bongbong Marcos’ first year in office, citing the continuous decline in the state of science and technology despite ambitious pronouncements made by the self-proclaimed ‘frustrated scientist’ early in his term.
“We are growing increasingly disappointed and frustrated with Marcos’ empty rhetoric of ‘championing’ science and technology, which consistently fails to materialize,” said Chuckie Calsado, Chairperson of AGHAM. “Throughout his term, we have witnessed no tangible improvements in funding for research and development, the welfare of scientists, science education, or the implementation of science-based policies.”
One indicator of this is the steadily declining R&D budget, which accounts for only P17.9 billion or 0.3% of the 2023 national budget. This presents a significant 24.79% decrease from R&D-tagged expenditures in 2021.
“The alarming trend only reveals Marcos’ disinterest for genuine development of innovation and knowledge creation in the country. This neglect poses severe consequences for our research institutions and SUCs, whose resources are already lacking,” stated Calsado. “The taxpayer’s hard-earned money that was funneled largely unto military funds could have instead empowered our researchers and scholars to pursue scientific breakthroughs and technological advancements to help address our country’s needs.”
Last year, President Marcos made repeated appeals for Filipino scientists abroad to return and urged existing scientists to remain in the country. However, Calsado pointed out that his administration has not taken any concrete measures to turn these appeals into reality.
“Marcos demonstrates a lack of genuine concern for scientists”, said Calsado. “Persistent issues of delayed pay and stipends, rigidly limiting policies for graduate students, and inadequate funding continue to plague STEM workers. This deplorable state of scientists’ welfare is further exacerbated by the scarcity of opportunities for scientists to flourish in the country” added Calsado.
AGHAM emphasized that the absence of efforts to integrate science and technology into economic development is reflected in the lack of a comprehensive plan for national industrialization.
“A year of nothing but empty promises is a year of stunted progress of science and technology and the continued neglect of the welfare of its constituents. We cannot afford to stall any longer.” asserted Calsado. “Enough of the lip service, we challenge the ‘frustrated scientist’ to stop frustrating scientists and walk the talk towards development of science and technology that genuinely serves the interest of the Filipino people.” ###