An Interview with Mar Roxas and Miriam Defensor Santiago

On April 2016, UPLB Perspective sent three questions to Senator Grace Poe, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, Vice President Jejomar Binay, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, and former  DILG Secretary Mar Roxas . These questions aim to help the students in determining the presidential candidate that they will propel into position.

However, only former DILG Secretary Mar Roxas and Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago responded to UPLB Perspective’s interview questions.


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DILG Secretary Mar Roxas


1. Do you agree that the Philippines is not producing enough scientists? What is your plan with Filipino scientists?

I agree that we need to invest more in producing talented individuals in the fields of science and mathematics so we can harness their skills for our nation’s development for more generations to come.

In line with that, we will continue and improve programs that will enhance the educational infrastructure and ensure the sufficiency of basic education inputs to meet the growing requirements of the K to 12 program. To develop people’s innate talents and skills, we will establish technical-vocational centers in all provinces and integrate technical-vocational education in our formal education system. We will also boost the performance of teaching personnel through more extensive capacity-building programs and adopt international standards in assessing the performance of schools, colleges, and universities to raise their and their graduates’ competitiveness. We will also establish a fund to provide financial support (tuition and allowance) to public high school graduates who finish at the top of their class nationwide, to allow them to pursue their tertiary education in quality schools.

2. What is your plan to improve our Disaster Preparedness?

We will continue investing in modern weather forecasting technology to provide valuable information prior to the impact of typhoons.

We will also strengthen the implementation of Operation Listo, build LGU capacity for disaster resilience by providing them with technical and financial assistance to procure necessary equipment, and undergo regular assessment and refinement of DRRM plans to respond to the changes in weather patterns, terrain, and local resources and needs. More space will also be created for community participation in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of local DRRM plans. These can be complemented by projects to be implemented under the expanded BuB.

3. If the Filipino people do not elect you as President, what would you do to serve the country?

Whatever happens this election, I will always–as I have done all my life–find ways to help our people.

This election is neither about me nor about what it can do for me. This is about the lives of one hundred million hardworking Filipinos and what we intend to do so we can give them their due.


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Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago


1.Do you agree that the Philippines is not producing enough scientists? What is your plan with Filipino scientists?

The Philippines is not only producing too few scientists, it is also losing many of its scientists to other countries, where there are better opportunities. To remedy this situation, we need to attract more Filipinos to pursue educational tracks and local careers related to science and technology.

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 (Senate Bill No. 2882 in the 16th Congress), which seeks to train scientists and researchers better relay the results of their endeavors to policymakers;
  • The Research and Development Efficiency Act (S.B. No. 2379), which seeks to establish under the Office of the President a Research and Development Support Committee to review regulations affecting research and development;
  • The International Science and Technology Cooperation Act (S.B. No. 3126), 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; and
  • B. No. 1722, which seeks to establish the Commission on the Advancement of Women in Science, Engineering, and Technology Development.

We will revise procedures on government acquisition of scientific equipment and even the audit of research and development expenditures. The human resource arms of all government agencies related to science, technology, and innovation will also be better trained to hire and retain scientists and researchers.

My administration will highlight science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in the curricula at all levels of education. At an early age, Filipinos will be equipped with the knowledge and skills that will be useful should they pursue STEM higher education tracks. We will ask Congress to re-file and pass:

  • The Science Start Grant Program Act (S.B. No. 1738), which seeks to provide grants for pre-schools to provide age-appropriate science education programs;
  • The Planting STEM in the Classroom Act (S.B. No. 1891), which seeks to provide government agencies and employees specializing in science and technology opportunities to support STEM activities in classrooms;
  • The Model High Schools Act (S.B. No. 1756), which seeks provide grants to business and education partnerships for the purpose of establishing model high schools for science and mathematics;
  • The Agricultural Science Early Education Act (S.B. No. 2075), which seeks to integrate agricultural science subjects in the elementary and secondary educational system; and
  • The Nuclear Science and Nuclear Engineering Scholarship Act (S.B. No. 3120), which seeks to establish a national scholarship program for studies in nuclear science and nuclear engineering.

To help micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), we will establish engage academic and research institutions and establish extension networks to train business owners in accessing advanced technologies and global markets. We will also facilitate access to finance, so that they can acquire new facilities and knowledge.

Once elected, I shall actively seek out scientists and researchers based abroad and invite them to come home. We will provide additional incentives for experts and specialists. It is also important to 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 re-file and pass my proposed Pinoy Innovator Act (S.B. No. 1196), 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.

2. What is your plan to improve our Disaster Preparedness?

 

Republic Act No. 10121, also known as the “Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010,” which I co-authored, paved the way for the creation of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). The NDRRMC, in contrast to its predecessor, the National Disaster Coordination Council, is multi-sectoral: It is composed of national agencies, local government leagues, private sector, civil society, faith-based organizations, academe and basic sectors. R.A. No. 10121 also signaled the paradigm shift to “disaster risk reduction and management” from traditional “disaster management.” This means that the NDRRMC is no longer concerned only with preparedness and response, but also with prevention and mitigation of the underlying factors of risk, including hazards, vulnerability, exposure, and capacity.

 

R.A. No. 10121 also paved the way for the creation of the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (LDRRMF) which may be used for DRRM programs at the level of the local government unit (LGU). The LDRRMF amounts to at least 5 percent of the LGU’s estimated revenue from regular sources, 70 percent of which may be used for disaster risk prevention, mitigation, preparedness, recovery and rehabilitation, and 30 percent of which may be used for quick response activities.

 

But reviews of the accomplishments and impacts of R.A. No. 10121 showed that much of the problem in DRRM implementation lies in weak disaster governance. The most glaring issue is the absence of a single focal authority for the implementation and oversight of DRRM. This has caused confusion in determining which agency or agencies should be responsible for implementing the four thematic areas of DRRM (prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery and rehabilitation), especially in large scale disasters such as Typhoon Yolanda. Currently, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) acts as the main coordinator of DRRM implementation in the country, aside from its Secretariat functions for the NDRRMC. The problem lies in the structure, manpower and financial resources of the OCD, a bureau within the Department of National Defense (DND). Clearly, its current structure and resources are insufficient to properly carry out DRRM in the Philippines.

 

There is an urgent need to streamline disaster risk governance through institutional change, so as to clarify the mandate and accountability of government agencies for DRRM. As president, I will lead the creation of an independent DRRM agency to enhance the capacity of government and communities to prevent, mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from the impact of disasters. An independent DRRM agency has to have the following core characteristics:

 

  • Functional and responsive organizational structure which combines climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction functions,
  • Ability to coordinate and augment implementation of DRRM programs,
  • Capacity for knowledge management of DRRM database, including disaggregated risk information,
  • Adequate manpower and institutionalized processes sufficient to prepare for and respond to large-scale disasters,
  • Sufficient financial and capital resources,
  • Administrative independence with respect to hiring and other personnel actions, and
  • Authority to administer DRRM funds and implement emergency procurement for effective disaster preparedness and timely disaster response and early recovery.

I shall appoint a Cabinet-level official as head of the independent DRRM agency to ensure that he or she has the requisite authority to orchestrate the different actors, policies and programs involved in DRRM. The independent DRRM agency must at least have a bureau to coordinate climate change adaptation, disaster prevention and mitigation, and disaster recovery and rehabilitation programs, and another bureau that handles preparedness and emergency management.

DRRM implementation also needs to interface with the private finance sector, particularly the insurance industry, to enable a functional risk financing mechanism for disasters. I have filed a bill to this effect as early as the 14th Congress. Unfortunately, it has languished at the committee level. Last June, I have refiled this proposal as Senate Bill No. 2561, which seeks to create a National Flood Insurance Program. This bill may be expanded to include other extreme events and natural hazards besides floods.

3. If the Filipino people do not elect you as President, what would you do to serve the country?

 

If I am not chosen by the people to be their president in 2016, I shall lend my decades of experience in the three branches of government—executive, legislative, and the judiciary—to whomever will be president, and in whatever capacity.

I have also recently been invited to be a member of the international advisory council for the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) in Rome. The IDLO is the only intergovernmental organization exclusively devoted to promoting the rule of law. It is supported by governments, multilateral organizations, and the private sector.

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