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Scientist group to candidates: embrace a science-based policymaking responsive to the people’s needs

AGHAM – Advocates of Science and Technology for the People welcomes and supports Atty. Chel Diokno’s proposal to replace the pandemic response management of the government, the IATF, with a science-based council. The unscientific and militarist approach to address the pandemic has cost the country tens of thousands of lives, which could have been saved had the Duterte government listened to science.

Atty. Diokno is right about the failure in contact tracing. The government’s implementation of contact tracing is not only ineffective but also questionable. It is not even clear how contact tracing information in the papers people are required to fill up to enter government offices, malls, and other private establishments have been utilized to conduct tracing. It is not clear if and how data from the apps used in airports and other points of entry are really used for contact tracing. It appears that they are only implemented to show some semblance of an epidemiological program. The current government could have mobilized our scientists and IT experts in these efforts.

We remind all senatorial and other candidates that we are still in a raging pandemic. While the positivity rate and number of new cases reported daily are declining, many flaws in the government’s epidemiological methods such as delays in reporting and limited testing protocol have not been addressed up to now. In fact, the number of deaths reported daily remains high. Moreover, even with the government’s promotion of vaccination, it has yet to reach even half of the target.

Our line is open to Atty. Diokno and other senatorial candidates who are willing to embrace a science-based policymaking that is responsive to the people’s needs. Despite how the current electoral politics is being practiced in the country, we still see some window for reforms that would uplift not only the stunted science and technology sector in the country but also and more importantly the quality of life of the Filipino people. For example, the candidates should seriously consider a return to the path to industrialization which has been practically sidestepped in the country since our liberation after the Second World War. Neoliberal policies which began to be implemented in the country in the 70s must be reviewed and its detrimental impact to our meager domestic industrial capacity be remedied. Rural and national industrialization means employment for millions of Filipinos, therefore the science and technology sector, which is central to industrialization, must be given much bigger support than what it is currently receiving.

In our 22-year long advocacy of making science and technology serve the people, we found it necessary that the government should listen to the people, especially the marginalized sectors, and not just the political and economic elite. We challenge all candidates to declare their platforms before the Filipinos and not deceive us through mere rhetoric and gimmickry.

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