DOST to scholars: Help improve Philippine export

PALO, Leyte -- The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) urged its scholars to contribute in improving the country’s economy, noting that the Philippines lags behind in export earnings compared to neighboring Asian countries.

Speaking to 40 scholars who graduated with honors during the awarding Tuesday, September 19, at the Oriental Hotel here, DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said scholars should make technology work to improve local products and cope up with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) integration.

The integration establishes a common market that dramatically reduced tariffs and non-tariff barriers across Asean member countries. This resulted in the freer movement of goods, services, investment, skilled labor and capital.

Citing latest figures, De la Peña said the country is left way behind in terms of total export value.

The 2016 report showed the country’s total shipped product value was pegged at USD56 billion. Although the country has vast land for farming, only USD5 billion or nine percent from the total was earned from agriculture.

“The country’s total export is just the same as the value of shipped farm products by Thailand. This is a very big challenge to us. I’m sure our scholars can contribute to increase our export,” De la Peña told the graduates.

Other neighbors showed higher export earnings, such as Thailand (USD250 billion), Malaysia (USD176 billion), Vietnam (USD170 billion), and Indonesia (USD144 billion). The share of farm products in the export earning is as high as 24 percent in these countries.

The report prompted De la Peña to ask new graduates to invest their time to help improve agricultural output through application of science and technology.

DOST scholar-graduates are required to render service in the country preferably along various fields of specialization on a full-time basis for a minimum period equivalent to the length of their scholarship.

Republic Act 7687, also known as the “Science and Technology Scholarship Act of 1994,” provides scholarships to talented and deserving students whose families’ socio-economic status does not exceed the set cut-off values of certain indicators.

Qualifiers must pursue priority fields of study in the basic sciences, engineering, other applied sciences, and science and mathematics.

The DOST Merit Scholarship Program is awarded to students with high aptitude in science and mathematics and are willing to pursue careers in the fields of science and technology.

Qualified students enroll in state universities and colleges and Commission on Higher Education (Ched) center of excellence schools. (PNA)