Press Release
November 21, 2011

"Bioteknolohiya para sa Kalikasan, Kalusugan, Kagandahan, Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran: OK ang 5K sa Biotech: Suportahan at Tangkilikin Natin!"
7th National Biotechnology Week (NBW)
21 November 2011
Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Senator Edgardo J. Angara
Keynote Speaker

It is my honor to keynote this important multi-stakeholder gathering. Modern biotechnology holds the key to how the world will provide food, water, energy, quality healthcare and even employment to a growing population in an economically viable and environmentally sustainable way.

Biotechnology can empower us to change the world as we know it, as well as help us promote environmental protection, biodiversity preservation, health and wellness, food security, job creation and industry development.

The Philippines is particularly primed to cultivate biotechnological applications, being a pioneer in biosafety in the region. We established the first biotechnology regulatory system among the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as early as 1990 through the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines.

In 2002, the Department of Agriculture (DA) issued an order that paved the way for the commercial release of genetically modified (GM) crops, then in 2006 the government established the National Biosafety Framework. The Philippine Biosafety Guidelines are also consistent with the provisions of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety .

Innovation Clusters

Opportunities abound for the country to benefit from biotechnology. But against the backdrop of our historically dismal performance, we need to rethink the way we conduct R&D and energize our capacity to innovate.

The Congressional Commission on Science, Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), which I chair, has proposed the formation of innovation clusters. For the first time we will have an innovation drive led by a consortium of industry, academe, government and international collaboration which will pave the way for collaborative R&D on usable technologies critical in solving key national challenges.

Generally, the clusters will have three (3) characteristics:

1. Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in S&T and R&D

The academe--both public and private--can be paired up with industry to form points of synergy where advanced technologies can be adopted. The academe will be involved in the acquisitive R&D, as well as the training of technicians and practitioners.

Industry players will provide important input into the research of the academe, by bringing a deep understanding of how being first-to-market creates competitive advantage. In some instances, industry could provide their own investments or could be responsible for bringing in advanced technologies.

Government will play a critical role in these PPP's by providing multiyear capital--funding spread over a three-year period. Agencies like the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) or the DA will also act as the cluster's monitoring body.

2. Program-based and milestone-driven:

In collaboration with industry, government will craft the broad programs of the innovation clusters, making sure that solutions are actually in line with the developmental goals of the Philippines.

Government financing for these programs will be awarded only if proposals include detailed timelines and relevant milestones. Such financing can be stopped if a project does not meet its set milestones. At the same time, funding will go direct to researchers, not to institutions.

3. Area-Specific:

The innovation clusters will be situated where they are needed most and can make a difference quickly. The top public and private universities all over the country will be identified as centers of excellence (COE) and incorporated into the appropriate innovation cluster.

For the devolution to bear more weight, central government agencies will pass on substantial amounts of funds and responsibilities to regional offices, which will work closely with the relevant universities and industry players. In fact, the DOST, CHED, DA and E-government Fund are the leading financial supporters of the innovation clusters under the 2012 national budget.

Adopting the innovation cluster model enables us to leverage the limited resources government allocates for R&D. The synergy between the government, academe and industry likewise becomes a compelling incentive for international players to invest in the country. In turn, this enables the cluster to leverage on the R&D budgets of other countries, which are far more substantive than ours.

As a pilot program, we aim to establish innovation clusters in five subject areas ,

The key R&D clusters are:

An Algae Research & Commercialization cluster to focus on algae biology, cultivation and processing. Algae are fast growing organisms that can be harnessed for their natural oils and utilized as carbon sinks. This cluster will drive the Philippine algae industry to specialize in high-value products for animal feed, nutraceuticals and biofuels.

Cebu rivals Manila in ICT prowess, hence, is a prime area to incubate the ICT cluster on Cloud Computing and Software as a Service (SaaS). This cluster will bring together the DOST-Region VII office, Cebu ICT Association, University of San Carlos, Cebu Institute of Technology and the University of the Philippines Cebu, in creating software applications and programs for e-governance, business process and knowledge process outsourcing.

The Smart Agriculture and Precision Farming will utilize remote sensing and satellite imaging for a more accurate assessment of land use, productivity and crop yields. This cluster will provide farmers with invaluable logistics and decision-making support, and at the same time harness the R&D capacity of our regional universities centered on agriculture.

The Responsible Mining Technologies cluster will help us harness our mineral resources in an environmentally sustainable way. Mining investment over the next five years can exceed US$10 billion. A large portion of this investment will go into the development of environment protection systems, biodiversity impact minimization mechanisms and water quality laboratories. Our SUC's will provide the manpower, talent and even location for this cluster and help secure a non-adversarial relationship between the community and industry.

The Disaster Science and Management cluster is, perhaps, the most critical at this time when natural disasters and extreme climatic conditions hit us repeatedly. It will provide accurate science forecasting and modeling, as well as train local governments and school administrators on disaster mitigation. Key here is disaster risk reduction and integrated risk governance, not just emergency response which does not minimize our vulnerabilities.

The success of innovation clusters rests largely on whether stakeholders collaborate effectively. In this regard, we will need all the help we can get, especially from the people with expertise and experience in biotechnology.


Various studies have projected that in the coming decades the center of gravity for global production will move towards the Asian region.

The European Commission predicts that by 2025, the region's combined gross domestic product will account for more than 30 percent of global GDP. Similarly, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) forecasts that in four decades, Asia's collective economy will constitute 51 percent of the world's GDP.

Innovations in science and technology will play a big role in our future competitiveness. At this point, we need to leapfrog our biotechnological capacity to be globally competitive. Biotechnological developments are happening at such a fast rate and we cannot afford to be left behind.

I am convinced that only through the participation of all stakeholders involved will our country move forward and capitalize on the benefits of biotechnology. I urge you to join this endeavor.

Thank you.


i The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international agreement which aims to ensure the safe handling, transport and use of living modified organisms (LMO's) resulting from modern biotechnology that may have adverse effects on biological diversity, taking also into account risks to human health. It was adopted on 29 January 2000 and entered into force on 11 September 2003.

ii Other areas include: Disaster Science and Management; and Cloud Computing and Software as a Service.

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