Dr. Renato U. Solidum, Jr., the newly appointed Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), shared that refocusing some of its major programs and aligning them with the economic agenda of the current administration will be the top priority of the department in the next six years.
In a broadcast statement, Sec. Solidum assured the public that the current programs of the DOST will be continued since they are already addressing the current administration’s priority concerns in pumping up the economy. He said that they are discussing the refocusing of some of DOST's major programs, particularly in the areas of agriculture and food security, transportation, health, renewable energy, and job creation, and aligning them with the economic agenda of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr's administration.
"When we think about science, technology, and innovation, it cut across all sectors. The DOST has service and research and development (R&D) institutions that could provide innovative and timely solutions to the challenges faced by the various sectors and areas in the country," said Sec. Solidum.
He further explained that DOST's main goal is to work closely with other national government agencies (NGAs) and help them address the problems of their respective stakeholders.
Sec. Solidum also said that in the areas of agriculture and food security, there are R&D institutions under DOST that are currently doing research to enhance the agriculture and nutrition sectors' post-harvest, value-chain, and food processing capabilities.
He also mentioned that DOST will continue to further improve its initiatives on transportation innovation and renewable energy.
"DOST has been partnering with various local government units and educational institutions when it comes to the research process and implementation of our projects on hybrid and electronic vehicles like the Hybrid Electric Road Train and e-Scooters in Cauayan City, Isabela, and the Hybrid Trimaran with the Aklan State University, " shared Sec. Solidum.
He shared that the Center for Advanced Batteries under the Niche Centers for R&D or NICER program is one of the ongoing initiatives on renewable energy in partnership with the academe.
Meanwhile, Sec. Solidum said that DOST also has programs that could help in creating numerous livelihood and employment opportunities in all parts of the country. For one, he cited the assistance of the department to our MSMEs through its banner program, the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program or SETUP.
"SETUP has been there for the local businesses in the regions for past decades, providing funding assistance to acquire equipment and technologies that would improve its overall production and operation and technical knowledge to ensure the quality and safety of their products," revealed Sec. Solidum.
On the plans and discussions to give the health sector the much-needed support especially amidst the global health pandemic, Sec. Solidum said that DOST has been helping push the passage of the law that would create the Virology Institute of the Philippines (VIP).
"We heard in the State of the Nation Address of President Marcos that the creation of the VIP will be one of his priorities in the legislative agenda. On the side, the DOST, through its agencies, have been preparing in terms of R&D initiatives and staff capabilities once the VIP is enacted into law," said Sec. Solidum.
The new science chief also shared his plans for the two DOST agencies that deal with various natural hazards, the DOST-PAGASA and DOST-PHIVOLCS.
"It is given that we need to continue improving the capabilities of our forecasters, geologists, and volcanologists and add equipment and facilities. But we would like also to focus on changing our approach to delivering messaging once a natural calamity is about to hit in certain areas. Aside from relaying what the weather will be? We should follow what the weather, an earthquake, or a volcanic eruption will do to us?" Sec. Solidum explained.
Sec. Solidum also disclosed that the DOST will continue to offer its resources and expertise in nuclear research as well as provide opportunities for S&T scholarships at the secondary, undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D. levels that will enable the country to increase the pool of highly dedicated and competent local scientists and engineers.
"We, at the DOST is discussing and will continue to do it together with our partners and the academe on how our resources and capabilities could offer solutions that are relevant and innovative and help other NGAs to fill the gaps of all sectors and communities in the country that would result to inclusive development," said Solidum.
Prior to his appointment, Sec. Solidum was the Undersecretary for Scientific and Technical Services and officer-in-charge of the DOST- Philippine Institute for Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS).
Sec. Solidum has been serving at the DOST for 38 years. He served as the Director of the DOST-PHIVOLCS since 2003 and was also appointed as the DOST Undersecretary for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation and later as an Undersecretary for Scientific and Technical Services. He graduated BS in Geology at the University of the Philippines-Diliman before earning his master's degree in Geological Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He got his doctorate degree in Earth Sciences at Scripps Institution of Oceanography from the University of California, San Diego.
In recognition of his exemplary service in government and as a true professional, Sec. Solidum was bestowed with several awards like the Presidential Citation for Public Service, the Presidential Lingkod Bayan (Civil Servant) Award by the Civil Service Commission, the Excellence Award for Government Service by the Philippine Federation of Professional Associations, the Presidential Career Executive Service Award by the Career Executive Service Board, and the Professional of the Year in the field of Geology by the Professional Regulation Commission. (By Allan Mauro V. Marfal, DOST-STII)