Senator Bam Aquino calls for more policies to support biotechnology

To fully reap the benefits of innovations from biotechnology, Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV urged for creation of more policies to support biotech discoveries, development, and commercialization during his keynote speech at the 14th National Biotechnology Week on 13 November 2018 at the World Trade Center, Pasay City. He was represented by Ms. Paola Deles, Policy Head of the Office of Sen. Bam Aquino.

Sen. Aquino, the Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, affirms the significant contributions of biotechnology in solving the country’s problems. According to Senator Aquino products of biotechnology have helped in fighting diseases through development of new methods and products to detect and treat them, feeding the hungry through boosting agricultural crop yield, and improving the environment through generation of clean energy, among others.

In particular, the Senator mentioned one of the researches funded by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCHRD) which deals with the decoding of leptospirosis and sepsis gene activities to improve present-day diagnosis and treatment methods of these two diseases. Leptospirosis and sepsis remain to be the most neglected infectious diseases in the country that needs to be addressed. Senator Aquino said, “Projects such as this is very promising because we can also apply the success of this research to find solutions in treating and diagnosing other diseases in the country.”

Despite the benefits of biotechnology, our country still faces the challenge of how research and investment can prosper, thus, a supportive research and regulatory environment should be created. Senator Aquino said, “Challenges in biotechnology must be seen as an opportunity to craft more policies and initiate more programs that would advance biotechnology’s ultimate goal of developing life-saving and sustainable technologies for every Filipino.” The Senator envisions an enabling research and policy environment where the government, academe, and private sector can work together to use their resources – knowledge, capital, commercialization expertise, to discover and bring to the Filipino people the products of government researches. The Senator also mentioned the importance of the newly passed, Balik Scientist Law, for the improvement of biotechnology researches. He explained that the law provides powerful incentives to Filipino scientists abroad who would like to return to the country to share their knowledge and expertise in different fields of Science. “With the help of the Balik Scientists, we can produce world class researches that could support policy making crucial to our national development agenda,” said Senator Aquino.

Right now, the Senator Bam Aquino and his colleague are currently working with the approval of the Senate Bill No. 1211 or the Philippine Space Act. This Act would be responsible for developing space science technology policies, implementing research and education programs, establishing industry linkages between private and public sector stakeholders, protection of national territory, natural resources accounting, and capacity building for telecommunications.

In the end, the Senator expresses his full support to DOST. “Let us build on the scope of what we have already achieved to realize a world at that is healthy and sustainable for future generations,” He said.

The National Biotechnology Week celebration is observed by virtue of Proclamation No. 1414 signed by Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on 9 November 2007. Among the other participating agencies include the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and Commission on Higher Education (CHED).