Nat’l scientist notes improvements in PHL’s research environment

MANILA-- A National Scientist has observed some improvements in terms of the government's support for scientific or research activities.

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency, Edgardo Gomez said that for one, the budget for the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has increased.

"There is money for research. The DOST's budget now is big, as compared to when I was starting my career," he said.

"Before, I was getting PHP20,000, PHP80,000 for research. Now, my younger colleagues are getting millions for research assistance," Gomez continued.

Gomez admitted that scientists and researchers still deal with the problem on applying for research grants.

As the current president of the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP), Gomez said the Council does not have enough funds.

"Every year, we keep on asking the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) to increase our budget," he said. "It was a constant effort us to increase the funding for the NRCP."

He clarified, however, that there are other ways of getting research grants, citing that NRCP members can also apply from the DOST, or other DOST-attached agencies.

He also cited that researchers hope for an improvement in the procurement process and in the Commission on Audit's rules. According to him, there were instances when it took time before the materials needed for research reached the researchers.

"In general, the Philippines is no longer a 'poor' country. Resources are there," he stressed.

To be able to avail of these resources, Gomez said the person must be qualified "technically and socially".

"Researchers need to be hardworking, honest, and trustworthy, among others. If there's a shortcoming, the person might find it difficult to ask for funding," Gomez emphasized, adding that researchers must have the competence to carry all those qualities.

The NRCP president also noted the increasing members of the Council, saying the numbers are increasing every year.

The Council has just concluded its 84th General Membership Assembly and annual scientific conference, where hundreds of its members participated.

Unlike before, Gomez said a lot of Filipino scientists opt to stay here than work abroad.

There is actually more opportunities for young scientists to work here, according to Gomez. "There is a good environment, so they (opt to) stay," he said.

Gomez, a biologist, was conferred that rank of a National Scientist in 2014. He will end his term as the NRCP president on March 31.

Source: Philippines News Agency