The Science, Technology, and Engineering Agenda for the Masses Philippines or STEAM Ph, an alliance that aims to advance the demands and calls of the S&T sector laments the continuous neglect of the science and technology sector under the new administration.

Jona Yang, lead convenor of STEAM Ph and Secretary General of AGHAM-Advocates of Science and Technology for the People says, “the new administration has not heed the call of the local scientists and engineers with the meager budget being given to academic institutions like University of the Philippines and the weather forecasting agency, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).”

According to Dean Giovanni Tapang of the UP Diliman College of Science,  it is the lack of support to the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) that resulted in the low rate of enrollees and graduates in the science and engineering programs. And despite the urgent call for the government to increase funding support to achieve a dynamic “university-industry collaboration in research and development projects”, they even slashed the 2023 national budget of the Department of Science and Technology by almost half..[1] The original proposed budget of DOST is P44.17 billion, but only P24.06 billion was approved. [2]

In the case of PAGASA, their budget was also reduced, which will affect their modernization program that is expected to upgrade their weather and flood monitoring and warning system as well as their agro-meteorological observation system for agriculture. As UP Professor and Engineer Joshua Agar emphasizes, “As the country is being visited by strong typhoons, the government must realize that there is a need for more funding support to be able to update  climate models as well as weather sensor systems. The recent Typhoon Karding showed us that we should be prepared to provide a  better sea-surface temperature model in anticipation of rapid intensification.” For Timothy James Cipriano, a geographer and senior lecturer at UP Diliman, he says, “these investments, along with nature-based solutions and community-based efforts would be a significant stride in reducing disaster risks now that the Philippines ranked first in the recent 2022 World Risk Index report.”

Since President Marcos expressed his interest in continuing profit-driven approaches on public utilities such as the use of water resources, along with no clear intentions to suspend all projects under the Build, Build, Build program of his predecessor, it is expected that the ongoing construction of environmentally-destructive yet inequitable megadam projects will continue. Environmental and sanitary engineer, Engr. JA Montalban explains,  “the prioritized lobbying for the proposed Department of Water Resources will institutionalize the full privatization of water services, leading for more megadam projects and other infrastructure only intended for the profiteering our water resources, adding to the financial burden of vulnerable communities as well as exacerbating harassment and intimidation against communities defending for their environmental rights.”

Another aggravating action of the government is the unabated reclamation activities. Based on the records of the Philippine Reclamation Authority, there are 187 reclamation projects, ten are already in the implementation stage wherein eight in Luzon and two in the Visayas. Marine scientist Jerwin Baure explains, “reclamation is putting lives, both on land and sea in danger. It will also imperil the country’s food security that gives justification for the government to import fish rather than protect our marine and coastal resources.”

And while President Marcos has committed to prioritizing environmental protection and climate change mitigation and adaptation, such pronouncements come alongside commitments to aggressively pursue infrastructure and extractive projects that endanger the very things the government should protect. This also comes without policies to ensure the protection of environmental and human rights defenders in the country, all while we remain the worst in Asia for attacks against land and environmental activists.

It is also an alarming pronouncement from President Marcos that he will allow the defunct Bataan Nuclear Power Plant to operate despite the various warnings of experts on its social, environmental, and economic impacts if it will be allowed to supply electricity. Cleng Julve, the National Coordinator of No to BNPP Revival Network clarifies, while we are not against nuclear technology, but the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant that the government is pushing to open is more disadvantageous to the consumers.  BNPP is not the answer to lower the cost of electricity because the energy industry is liberalized through the Electric Power Industry Reform Act. All the cost of operating the BNPP will be pass-through charges  that will be an additional burden to all consumers.

“In the first 100 days of President Marcos, we do not see a glimmer of hope for science and technology to thrive well that would serve the interests of the general public. The STEAM Ph has marked our demands through the science and technology (S&T agenda) during the election period, we remained steadfast in amplifying our call and to continue engaging the current administration in making science and technology relevant and beneficial for the people and the country”, ends Yang.


[1] #PILIpiLUNAS2022 Governance Agenda: Pag-angat at Pagsulong Tungo sa Magandang Buhay at Bukas, Office of the Chancellor, Office of the Chancellor, University of the Philippines Diliman Task Force on a Blueprint for Building the Nation, April 29, 2022

[2] Solons say DOST needs upgrade, to push for budget hike written by Richa Noriega dated September 7, 2022 at GMA News Online.


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