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Defend PH Scientists, Remove Antiporda from Govt!

In a world where science and facts are constantly assailed by those who want to bend reality to suit their motives, we need to raise our voices higher so that truth does not get drowned out by ad hominem attacks.

AGHAM Advocates of Science and Technology for the People condemns the baseless, crass attacks being launched by DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda against the science community in the University of the Philippines. As clarified by UP Marine Science Institute Director Dr. Laura David, UP scientists are not “bayaran” and in fact render their services practically for free, as part of UP’s mandate to provide scholarly and technical assistance to the government.

And yet when science proves inconvenient to Duterte and his lackeys, they are quick to attack and undermine Filipino scientists. The Philippine science community still remembers Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque quipping in 2018 that Filipino scientists cannot do research on their own on Benham rise. More recently, Roque muzzled scientists from Octa Research Group, a private consultancy, and asked that they do not publicly publish quarantine recommendations.

The Filipino science community direly needs support, not hostility, from the government. Currently we have very little researchers per million Filipinos, well behind neighbors in the ASEAN. Gross expenditures in research and development (R&D) stand at only 0.16% of GDP, very far from the UNESCO standard of 1%. Underhanded, malicious attacks are an affront against the local science community – many of whom have opted to stay at home to serve despite more lucrative careers that could be had abroad. UP scientists have shown dedication to the country in their contributions in many areas of science including giving analysis, policy recommendations and material support in the COVID-19 pandemic without added compensation.

While Antiporda’s public apology is welcome, we demand that he be removed from his post due to the unnecessary and vile antipathy he is courting against the local science community. Local scientists deserve more respect and recognition, and we demand more serious action against the series of tirades done by Antiporda and other members of the Duterte administration.

We also challenge the Duterte administration to halt unscientific, environmentally destructive projects like the dumping of white sand in Manila Bay and the Bulacan aerotropolis. We call that the welfare of the people and sound science be placed at the center of government policy – especially with regard to our pandemic response.

#DefendPHScientists
#DefendPHScience
#SupportOurScientists
#RemoveAntiporda

REFERENCES

Aguilar, K. (2020). DENR Usec apologizes to UP: ‘We’re partners here’.

Cabico, G.K (2020). ‘Bayaran kayo’: DENR slams UP scientists critical of Manila Bay dolomite project.

Ranada, Pia (2018). Malacañang says Filipinos need China for Benham Rise research.

Ranada, Pia (2020). Malacañang tells research group to stop publicizing quarantine recommendations.

UNESCO (2020). UNESCO Institute for Statistics Statistics.

University of the Philippines (n.d.) Charter of 2008 Mandate and Functions

UP Media and Public Relations Office (2020). UP united: How the state university is raising head and heart against COVID-19.

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