NAST PHL PUSHES FOR LEGISLATION ON SUSTAINABLE MARINE FOOD SECURITY, PLASTIC WASTE, AND TALENT DEVELOPMENT AND RETENTION DURING ITS 41ST ANNUAL SCIENTIFIC MEETING

With the theme of “Caring for the Country’s Carrying Capacity,” the National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL) renewed its call for the country to attain the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) during its 41st Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) last July 10-11, 2019 at the EDSA Shangri-La Manila, Mandaluyong City.

Focusing on the challenges of sustainable marine food security, plastic waste, and talent development and retention, the 41st ASM submitted specific recommendations that were presented to NEDA Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia and DOST Secretary Fortunato T. dela Peña.

The recommendations included the creation of a separate department for fisheries and ocean resources, the adoption of a Circular Economy which includes the re-design of plastics, and a call to increase support for the development of STEM faculty and facilities in K-12 and for graduate education scholarships for study in the Philippines and abroad.

The ASM is annually conducted by NAST PHL and aims to formulate science-based, research-backed recommendations that will be transmitted to the President of the Philippines, the Cabinet, the Senate, and the House of Representatives for their appropriate action.

41st ASM Program

Dr. Andrew H. J. Wang of the Academia Sinica and Professor Yoo Hang Kim of the Association of Academies and Societies of Sciences in Asia (AASSA) served as keynote speakers for the two-day ASM which is the largest gathering of the country’s top scientific minds.

Dr. Wang discussed some of the developments in the field of biotechnology in Taiwan, highlighting the achievements they have made in medicine and agriculture among others. He expressed big expectations regarding the renaissance of biotechnology in the Philippines. Meanwhile, Professor Kim gave a short orientation regarding AASSA’s activities and major projects. He mentioned the various workshops that AASSA conducted, including two events in the Philippines last 2015 and 2016.

NAST PHL President Academician Rhodora V. Azanza delivered a brief report regarding the updates on the 40th ASM Resolutions, including those related to the potentials and management of the Philippine Blue Economy. This was followed by presentations by National Scientist Ernesto O. Domingo on the Universal Healthcare Law, considered a victorious feat by the Philippine health community, and by National Scientist Lourdes J. Cruz who discussed the Future Earth Program in the Philippines, a project that tackles the agenda of sustainability in the country. Recognition of NAST awardees, conferment of new members

During the ASM, NAST PHL also recognized outstanding contributions in the field of science and technology in the Philippines.

NAST PHL conferred the title of Academician to Professors Dr. Juan Pulhin and Dr. Rex Victor Cruz, civil engineer Dr. Benito Pacheco, and health expert Dr. Rody G. Sy. NAST PHL also conferred the rank of Corresponding Member to plant geneticist Professor Dr. Michael D. Purugganan and applied physics Professor Dr. Romel D. Gomez.  NAST PHL also recognized 12 Outstanding Young Scientists (OYS) from various fields.

Resolutions

One of the main highlights of the ASM is the presentation of resolutions which were formulated from the Regional Scientific Meetings (RSMs) which were held earlier in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

41st ASM Resolutions Committee Chair Academician William G. Padolina presented the resolutions, with the responses delivered by NEDA Secretary Pernia and DOST Secretary de la Peña.
The 41st ASM Resolutions centered on calls for policy intervention on five key areas of concern namely: (1) talent development and retention; (2) reform of the R&D ecosystem; (3) management of plastic waste; (4) marine food security; and (5) sustainable Halal ecosystem.

Support for higher education and improvement of R&D

NAST PHL outlined the concerns of the academic and research sector in its resolutions. It called for an increase in support for the development of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) faculty and facilities especially in the K to 12 program and the promotion of talent acquisition to boost the country’s competitiveness.

One key resolution of NAST PHL in support of the Research and Development Sector was the call to reform the procurement system with regards to STEM R&D. This was a concern by most scientists, saying that their research work is being hampered by the hyper-regulated procurement system brought by the Government Procurement Reform Act (Republic Act 9184). NAST has been calling for amendments in the procurement law to ensure the smooth conduct of research and development work.

A bill that specifically addresses the procurement system in relation to STEM research and development has been filed in the House of Representatives by Bohol Congressman Erico Aristotle Aumentado, but has since been pending in the Committee Level.

Management of Plastic Waste

In light of the problems faced by the country in terms of plastic waste, NAST PHL called for support to “consolidate, pass, faithfully implement, and adequately fund proposed legislations at the local and national levels on the phase-out of non-biodegradable single-use plastic materials”.

A bill in relation to plastic waste has been filed in the Senate by Senator Francis Pangilinan for the 18th Congress (2019-2022). The Senate Bill No. 40 aims to regulate the manufacturing, importation, and use of single-use plastic products and provide the necessary penalties and incentives.

Marine Food Security and the Creation of a Department of Fisheries and Oceans

NAST PHL reiterated its call to the government to establish a separate Department of Fisheries and Oceans that will handle the marine, aquatic, and fisheries affairs of the country “to assure sustainability of food from our marine and fresh water resources.”

During the 39th and 40th ASM, NAST PHL had already called for the creation of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in line with the campaign of NAST PHL to develop the country’s blue economy which consists of aquaculture and capture fisheries, ocean resources, marine tourism, and shipbuilding industries among others.

It can be recalled that President Rodrigo Duterte made a campaign promise to establish a separate department that will cater to the needs of the fisheries sector. Several lawmakers, including former House Speaker Gloria Arroyo and Senator Risa Hontiveros, filed their versions of the bill during the 17th Congress. Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto also voiced out the need to create the Department, stating that “it makes sense to have a Secretary of Agriculture to oversee 10-million hectares of agriculture land and a secretary of fisheries to oversee 250-million hectares of fisheries [in the] EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone).”

National Land Use Act

Related to the challenge of sustainable marine food security and in light of the threats to our water resources, NAST PHL also called for the passage of the National Land Use Act to ensure a rationalization of the “use of land and water resources for food security, industrial development, and human settlements.” It can be recalled that NAST PHL also called for the passage of a similar land use policy legislation during its 33rd ASM in 2011.

A bill on the crafting of a national land use policy (House Bill 5240) has been approved by the House of Representatives during the 17th Congress. However, the Senate version of the bill remained pending in the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. A similar bill was filed in the current 18th Congress

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DOST “grinds” grassroots innovation

In conjunction with the celebration of the 2019 National Science and Technology Week (NSTW), the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through DOST Region XI launched the Grassroots Innovation for Inclusive Development (GRIND) last 20 July 2019 at the Hotel Jen Manila by Shangri-La, Pasay City.

GRIND serves as a vehicle for inclusive innovation and interventions by providing cost-effective and audience-centric solutions to pressing local problems, following a bottom-up approach.

“This initiative highlights the importance of inclusiveness and innovations with our premiere programs that help the grassroots including the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) and Community Empowerment through Science and Technology (CEST),” said DOST Secretary Fortunato T. De La Peña.

The first session of the forum focused on the model of grassroots innovations in Malaysia presented by Ms. Sharmila Mohammed Salleh of Yayasan Innovasi Malaysia.

Likewise, the second and third session tackled the inclusive Filipinnovation and entrepreneurship roadmap presented by the Bureau of Trade and Industrial Policy Research (DTI-BTIPR) Director Maria Lourdes A. Yaptinchay, and the proposed grassroots innovation framework plan in the Philippines presented by DOST-XI Regional Director Anthony C. Sales, respectively.

The GRIND framework identifies grassroots innovations (GI) opportunities and sets-out vision, targets, and strategies through LEARNING, supports GI development and implementation through LEVERAGING, establishes and fosters the GI ecosystem, and finally, institutionalizes policies and investments to support and sustain the GI ecosystem through LEGITIMIZING.

“The event is addressed among the quadruple helix collaboration of civil society organizations, government, industry, and academe to build and propose innovative platforms and programs especially for GI,” said Sales.

During the unveiling of the Grassroots Innovation Plan in the Philippines, major partners from the quadruple helix collaboration has provided their pledge of commitment and support to the implementation of GRIND led by Dr. Mia Mikic, Director of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).

The event was cosponsored by DOST, Technology Application and Promotion Institute (DOST-TAPI), and UNESCAP.

My Post Bday celebration happens @ Quezon Buffet Resto @ Fishermall Q.C.

Last Saturday, I treated some of my CMAP Family friends at the Quezon Buffet for a lunch as my post bday celebration  @ Fisher Mall in Q.C. Quezon Buffet is owned by the group behind Guevarra’s, the difference being the chef in charge at Quezon Buffet is Chef Kalel Chan. Buffet rates are very affordable.

I love all the foods here @ Quezon Resto and they are all good…

Since there are way too many dishes, I’ll just feature my faves like this yummy crunchy Bagnet. They have equally delicious Cebu Lechon Belly too.

The Yummy Paella. I cannot forget the taste of their Paella, its too yummy and very tasting..

Pakbet is really so delicious, the taste is really different from any other pakbet dishes.

Buttered Shrimp is another dishes that I cannot forget the taste.. Its so yummy & you can taste its butter inside the shrimp shell.

Quezon Resto dessert is really amazing and very refreshing that all of the dessert that I saw there really so delicious that you wanna go back to eat again and again..

I also like their green mango, its really delicious, that its taste blend to its salted shrimp paste. You cannot forget the taste.

I am pretty sure I will go back again @ Quezon Resto one of these days to taste again their food. Guys you will surely really love the taste of their food and their staffs are very friendly and accommodating as if you feel like eating @ home.

DOT all-out support for Manila tourism development

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat and Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso speak to the media after their ocular inspection of the major tourism destinations in the capital. 

MANILA— Tourism chief Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the national government stands ready to assist the City of Manila in improving its tourism industry as she lauds the initiatives of Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso in cleaning the capital.

“For us, in any way that we can help the mayor, we are ready to extend help,” the Tourism Secretary said during an interview at the Rizal Park last Tuesday.

“Mayor Moreno is for heritage tourism, maintaining the old-buildings, and having a clean city. Indeed, we can have sustainable tourism in the city,” she said.

The Tourism chief joined Domagoso for an ocular inspection of major areas in the Manila “tourism circuit” including the Bonifacio Shrine, the Plaza Roma in Intramuros where the two officials rode the iconic bamboo bikes, and the Rizal Monument in Luneta.

For the remaining three years of the administration’s term, Romulo-Puyat vowed that DOT attached agencies such as the Intramuros Administration will focus on addressing the problem of informal settlers and developing a hub for the creative industry inside the walled city.

The National Parks Development Committee along with Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) will also lead in the redevelopment of Rizal Park, particularly the Esplanade and the Children’s Playground to attract people anew to visit Rizal Park.

Romulo-Puyat said she sees the potential of increasing arrivals in the capital as Manila serves as a “drop-off point” to a number of foreign and local tourists.

“With the help of Mayor, we toured around Manila, I’m impressed, it’s very clean now. Tourists can visit more places now,” she said.

Tourists to enjoy Manila Bay beach walk soon

MANILA — Tourists in the metropolis may soon indulge in a walk by the beach once the famous Manila Bay is officially opened to the public.

“The national government will build a 50-meter beach and water treatment facilities wherein the water coming from the inland will be cleaned once it lands to Manila Bay,” said Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso during an interview at the Rizal Park on Tuesday.

On January 27, the national government kicked off the rehabilitation of the famed area, where people flock to watch the sunset, due to tons of waste that have been collected.

At present, the bay’s clean-up efforts led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Tourism (DOT), and the Department of the Interior and Local Government are ongoing, said Domagoso.

“The Department of Public Works and Highways, the DOT, MMDA, and the DENR asked us for a space near the Yacht Club to put up a water monitoring system,” Domagoso said.

“Now, I visited them a week ago, they’re laying now the pipes for the water treatment facility so this thing is going on. I think ang sinabi sa akin, kung hindi ako nagkakamali, by first quarter of next year or latter part of this year bubuksan na siya (I’m told, if I’m not mistaken, by first quarter of next year or latter part of this year, it will be opened),” he said. 

DOT welcomes lifting of US public notice at NAIA

MANILA — The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Friday welcomed Washington’s rescission of notice regarding the security conditions at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), saying this sits well with the government’s bid to attract more tourists to the country.

“We, at DOT, are very elated and encouraged by this development as we renew our commitment to extend to the public, particularly our international visitors, the highest potentials of the Filipino brand of service,” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said in a statement.

“This development also augurs well for the DOT’s efforts to increase tourist arrivals and for the development of a culture of resilient, inclusive, and sustainable tourism in the country,” she added.

The United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has decided to clear the NAIA of “security defects”, leading the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to rescind its public advisory concerning security concerns there.

The DOT said efforts to improve NAIA’s security measures were exerted by the government since the DHS issued its advisory in December 2018.

“The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) implemented security improvements and enhancements to upgrade to international aviation security standards with the assistance of the TSA experts,” the DOT said.

Although the notice had been lifted, the DOT said the TSA would continue conducting an analysis of NAIA’s security operations, maintenance, and infrastructure.

Romulo-Puyat lauded the DOTr and MIAA for undertaking corrective measures to seriously address security issues raised by the TSA leading to the DHS advisory.

DOST-assisted herbal supplement vs. dengue now out in the market

MANILA — A herbal supplement developed through a loan from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is now available in the market.

DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña, said the supplement was made from “tawa-tawa” (Euphorbia hirta), but instead of drying the leaves, the manufacturer focused on its extracts.

The supplement was developed by Herbanext, a company that specializes on natural products such as vegetables and fruits. “They prioritize plants or fruits that are known to be associated with illnesses based on folkloric literature,” he said.

Dela Peña added that Herbanext conducts studies on herbal plants that may cure headache, fever, problem in urination, among others.

“Tawa-tawa was proven to have anti-viral properties. They (Herbanext) made this into capsule or tablet,” he continued.

The DOST chief emphasized that this is just a supplement, and not a medicine.

Herbanext have yet to conduct clinical trials for this supplement, which means testing this on humans.

“They’re done with the pre-clinical trial. They used a mice to see (the supplement’s) effect, and they found out that it has caused the platelet count to increase,” dela Pena shared.

The product was already registered and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a supplement.

“It is not considered a medicine until it’s not tested on humans. A supplement, if you talk about safety, is something that may not cure but would not cause harm. It is safe (to use),” Dela Peña explained.

Herbanext’s supplement fights the dengue virus, and increases the platelet count. This should not be used to prevent dengue, he noted.

Meanwhile, Dela Peña confirmed that the DOST spent PHP8.3 million for the equipment used by Herbanext. He clarified, however, that the equipment was used also to develop other products, and that the company would return the money.

The supplement can be bought under the brand name Daily Apple.

According to dela Peña, Herbanext sells products under this brand, and indicate the plant used in the packaging. Thus, buyers should look for Daily Apple, with “tawa-tawa” written on the packaging.

This will be available initially at the Daily Apple stores in Quezon City, Bacolod, Cebu, Davao, and General Santos.

Dela Peña said Herbanext is currently coordinating with other drug stores to make this product available to more people.