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Philippines builds strategic plan for science, technology, and innovation

The National Academy of Science and Technology Philippines (NAST PHL) virtually held its 42nd Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM), highlighting the role of science and technology (S&T) as key elements of the country’s development.

According to a press release, the meeting discussed the building of the country’s Science, Technology, and Innovation Foresight and 30-Year Strategic Plan.

The meeting was themed “S&T for Society: Solutions to Long-Standing Concerns”.

It was a convention for the science and technology community, public, and private sectors to discuss pertinent societal issues in:

  • ICT, shelter, and other infrastructure
  • Food systems and health
  • Energy, water, and transportation systems
  • Environment, climate change, and blue economy
  • Science education and talent retention

It also explored learnings from the COVID-19 pandemic to formulate policies or implement guidelines for providing solutions to the country’s long-standing challenges, the release stated.

The plan includes academe, researchers, scientists, and government agencies across the country to share and profile research with particular focus on the applications of science and technology for sustainability, resilience, and recovery.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary, Fortunato Dela Pena, said the strategic plan was a result of his meeting with the Malaysian Academy of Sciences (MAS) in 2018. The institute’s science and technology foresight study extended to 2050.

Inspired by this, DOST-NAST started conceptualising a proposal equivalent to the 30-year long-term plan, leading to the DOST-funded NAST PHL project.

The Secretary also highlighted the relevance of the event in the context of the risks and vulnerabilities brought by the pandemic.

This is the perfect time to convene for solutions to long standing concerns, especially as the threat of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases have brought challenges in various disciplines, he explained.

The press release informed that the webinar series will be posted live at the NAST PHL Facebook page to be made available to the public.

NAST PHL is an attached agency to DOST mandated by law to advise the President and the Cabinet on matters related to S&T.

Further, to accelerate digital transformation amid COVID-19, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is seeking approval for its proposed budget to implement digital programs.

The budget totals PH ₱46.6 billion (US $941 million) for fiscal year (FY) 2021. It aims to rebuild the economy and adapt to the ‘new normal’ of economic activity, as OpenGov reported.

The budget for FY 2021 is significantly higher than its current budget for FY 2020, which amounts only to around PH ₱6 billion (US $121 million).

In its proposal, DICT allotted PH ₱22.1 billion (US $447 million) for its digital connectivity and access programs, particularly, the National Broadband Program (NBP), the Free WiFi for All project (for public places, state universities, and college programs), and the Government Emergency Communications System.

Digital connectivity and access is the foundation of digital transformation. With secure and reliable internet connectivity for every Filipino, the department plans to implement programs and initiatives towards the digitalisation of various economic sectors.

The country must use all its resources to fast track digital change to better adapt to the pandemic, an official said.

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