100 days of AGHAM Party-List in Congress

Rep. Angelo Palmones

WHAT has been done by AGHAM Party-List in its first 100 days of service to support the goals of the science and technology (S&T) sector?

“When we started in July this year, AGHAM has identified priorities which we will pursue with corresponding legislation for the next three years. As of today, we have already filed 29 legislative measures,” said AGHAM Rep. Angelo B. Palmones.

Rep. Palmones said that AGHAM is taking an active role in addressing national problems needing direct S & T intervention, such as issues on health, food, natural resources, and environment, among others. To address environmental concerns, AGHAM has filed HB03103 (providing for protection and sustainable management of forest ecosystem) and HB00844 (promoting national strategy for sustainable mangrove resources).

Just submitted is a resolution (HR00508) directing BIR, MWSS, Maynilad, Manila Water , NIA, NPC, PSALM and DENR to inform the House of Representatives on the status of fund collection for environmental conservation and reforestation services and how these have been utilized, in aid of legislating a national reforestation program; while a resolution (HR00301) to immediately stop importation of choice cuts (frozen chicken) has been filed and adopted. On health, HB02005 (providing free pulmonary function tests and treatment for smoke-related diseases); HB01603 (institutionalizing tribal health workers); and HB02889 ( strengthening the barangay nutrition scholar program) have been filed.

“We also support the move to allot bigger budget for research and development (R&D), i.e. at least 0.80% of the country’s GDP,” continued Rep. Palmones. As initial step, he said that he has filed House Resolution No. 00200 directing concerned institutions to submit to the Committee on Science and Technology of the House of Representatives the priority industries to be developed and the technologies and policies needed to support these industries, to help them determine the needed funding support for research and development and extension. He added that he has also filed HB03382 (an act to establish financial management reforms for government research and development operations).

Rep. Palmones assures AGHAM’s support to Science, Engineering and Mathematics education in order to guarantee the country’s steady supply of talented S&T knowledge workers. “However, it is equally important that we create job opportunities for graduates of science and engineering,” he said. Relative to this, he has filed HB00842 (regulating the practice of microbiology in the Philippines), HB00844 (promoting the growth of biotechnology industry in the Philippines and the creation of wealth from biodiversity) and HB02701 (regulating and modernizing the practice of chemistry in the Philippines).

Other initiatives of AGHAM include curriculum development and course offering for B.S. Meteorology, which hopefully will start in SY 2011-2012. This is in partnership with SEI-DOST, PAGASA and four state universities. Another is MS offering for Grade 1-4 school teachers of science and math in collaboration with a state university, and improving/upgrading science classrooms in public elementary and secondary schools.

Another priority being supported by AGHAM is building of necessary S&T institution and infrastructure. So far, AGHAM has filed HB01877 (an act providing for the modernization of PAGASA); HB03102 (an act establishing the Office of Asst. Regional Director and Provincial Director in the Department of Science and Technology), and HB03249 (an act providing for the establishment of a cryogenic seed bank for indigenous plant species to buffer against extinction due to climate change and other causes).

AGHAM shall support measures to enhance S&T awareness through the dissemination of S&T information to reach a greater segment of the population. “It is important that we promote the culture of innovation as well as constructive competition in S&T in order to spark the beginnings of a distinctly Filipino S&T culture. This includes recognition of excellence and outstanding achievements in S&T,” said Rep. Palmones.

Four legislative measures have been filed to motivate and sustain interest in S & T, particularly of the youth. These are: HR00084 (commending student medalists in the International Math Olympiad in Kazakhstan. The three students with their parents and advisers were already recognized and given citation in the House of Representatives during its September 13, 2010 Plenary Session); HR00322 (a resolution congratulating and commending Dr. Christopher Bernido and Dr. Maria Victoria Carpio-Bernido, recipients of 2010 Ramon Magsaysay Award for their contribution to Philippines science education); HR00406 (a resolution recommending the recognition and provision of incentives for winners of international science competitions and recipients of international science awards); and HR00459 (a resolution for the establishment of the House Speaker’s medal for technology and innovation and providing cash incentives to the winners).

Just recently AGHAM wrote a letter requesting the House Speaker through Secretary General Marilyn Yap to allow the Philippine Foundation for Science and Technology to display interactive science exhibit at the North and South lobbies of the House of Representatives for the members, employees and the general public. Soon to be filed is a bill authorizing B.S. Graduates of Math, Science and Engineering to teach in the elementary and high schools without a prior Teacher’s licensure Certificate, but which they have to acquire within two years, to improve Math and Science education in these levels.

In addition to legislative measures, AGHAM sustains linkages and network to bring S & T closer to the grassroots, the underprivileged and indigenous people through capability building activities, provision for medical services, and livelihood training. Vicky B. Bartilet, AGHAM

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