Press Release
April 20, 2016


Speech at the University of the Philippines Mindanao

All candidates eloquently promise inclusive growth, but stutter when asked how they plan to achieve it. The answer is simple: We must invest in people. We need to educate them, take care of their health, and feed them so they will become productive members of a growing work force. Only by investing in people can we truly make growth inclusive.

Education will be a cornerstone of my administration. We will educate the poor by institutionalizing Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program, including a provision that expands its coverage to include beneficiaries aged 15 to 18. We will bridge the classroom gap, both through increased public investment and improved private participation through the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Program. We will continue to support the K to 12 program, but will also make sure that it is in sync with all efforts in technical-vocational education and training (TVET).

A recent University of the Philippines research, however, found that we must complement education with research and development (R&D) in order to make our human capital highly competitive and ready to partake of economic growth. I wholeheartedly adopt U.P.'s proposal of investing more heavily in R&D. The first budget proposal we will submit to Congress will have R&D allocation equivalent to 1 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). This will gradually increase, to 2 percent of the GDP by our last year in office. Key investment areas will include :

Agriculture, particularly for the development of farming technologies and crop varieties that will help the sector cope with disasters and climate change; Manufacturing and micro, small, and medium enterprises, particularly for the production of more high-valued products from agricultural raw materials; Health, particularly to improve strategies for diseases HIV/AIDS; Renewable energy, to help address the country's power needs and achieve goals of reduced carbon emissions; and Environment, climate change, and disasters, particularly for hazard mapping, the development of early warning systems, and biodiversity protection.

As senator, I have filed several bills aimed at creating an environment conducive to innovation and fostering collaboration among the government, the private sector, the academe, and research institutions. Unfortunately, these bills have languished at the committee level. Once elected, I will shepherd the following into approval:

The Scientific Communications Act, which seeks to train scientists and researchers to better relay the results of their endeavors to policymakers; The Research and Development Efficiency Act, which seeks to establish under the Office of the President a Research and Development Support Committee to review regulations affecting research and development; and The International Science and Technology Cooperation Act, which seeks to establish under the National Academy of Science and Technology a committee that will identify and coordinate with international partners for science and technology.

We will revise procedures on government acquisition of scientific equipment and the audit of R&D expenditures. The human resource arms of all government agencies related to R&D will also be better trained to hire and retain scientists and researchers.

In order to invite Filipino scientists and researchers abroad to come home, we will increase the salaries and provide additional incentives for experts and specialists. We will also improve the work environment of Filipino scientists, not only to retain them but also to improve the quality of their output.

I will also ask Congress to pass my proposed Pinoy Innovator Act, which seeks to establish a program to award prizes to individuals and entities who develop innovative technologies. If Congress fails to approve these proposals by midterm, I shall issue executive orders with the same effect.

Gusto ko lang magtanong, pero baka ang sagot nasa Maynila. Bakit kapag nagtanong sa mga university kung sino ang gusto nilang presidente, the answer, left and right, is Miriam. Pero kapag ibang survey na-iyong binabayaran-ni wala doon ang pangalan ko?

With a strong R&D sector, we can once and for all stop depending on advanced economies to solve our problems. I have no doubt that the Filipino, with divine guidance, can make anything possible. For as the poet said,

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines,
With never-failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs,
And works his sovereign will.

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