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S&T and the future

What the government giveth, it taketh away. That seems to be the case with the pending Salary Standardization Law of 2015.

Part of the proposed Salary Standardization Law, which is due to be signed by P-Noy and which the Aquino administration touts as a way of improving the status of all government workers, is a provision to either repeal or amend the Magna Carta for Science and Technology, which grants workers in government science and technology bodies raises in their take-home pay. It’s also been reported that other laws seeking to protect other government workers—from health personnel to teachers—might also lose the provisions governing their salaries and other benefits in their respective, and hard-won, Magna Cartas.

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One of those speaking out on this onerous provision of the Salary Standardization Law is Angelo Palmones, president of the Alyansa ng mga Grupong Haligi ng Agham at Teknolohiya para sa Mamamayan (Agham), a party-list group seeking to improve the conditions of government S&T workers as well as to promote the spirit of scientific inquiry and technological development in the country.

The move, says Palmones, is “not logical and untimely.” He says the science community and their advocates “worked hard for years for the passage of [Republic Act No.] 8439 (the Magna Carta for science and technology workers),” seeing that the law’s implementation was “one way of sustaining and maintaining the necessary talent and manpower for S&T.”

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In this rapidly developing world, S&T contributes some 70 percent of economic growth in developed countries, while it takes a 30-percent share in underdeveloped (or developing) countries, with the number rising to 40 percent in the Philippines.

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One of the justifications for the S&T Magna Carta was that the government needed to improve the salaries and status of its scientists, researchers, engineers and experts who had been leaving government service in droves in response to better and more attractive offers from the private sector.

Among the most affected of these offices is Pagasa, the weather bureau, which has been losing an increasing number of trained personnel. Philippine Weathermen Employees Association (PWEA) president Ramon Agustin says the foreseen repeal of relevant provisions in the Magna Carta is a “threat to the economic wellbeing not only of Pagasa employees but of all S&T workers.”

And if I might add, if the country loses its edge in science and technology when it loses its S&T workers, the entire economy will suffer, with our capability for innovation and to respond to crises like climate change severely compromised.

Adds PWEA’s Agustin: “The law has been in existence since 1998 but was only funded through the GAA (General Appropriations Act) recently. But now we are on the verge of returning to the old days when we virtually begged for funding.  We cannot afford to go back to the dark past. We will absolutely oppose this provision to protect our rights.”

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The head of the weathermen’s union clarified, however, that he and its members fully support the immediate passage of the Salary Standardization Law for all government workers, but they hope RA 8439 will not be repealed or amended as a consequence of the bill’s passage.

Declares Joy Lazcano, president of the S&T Information Institute Employees Association: “The provision in the Salary Standardization Law threatening to repeal RA 8439 is proof that not the entire government recognizes and truly understands the value of science and technology.”  The sector, says Lazcano, contributes to the Philippine economy “through several programs that are geared toward uplifting local industry competitiveness, increasing the number of S&T human capital, improving the agriculture sector, and our efforts in disaster mitigation, to name a few.”

They want to remind everyone, but especially our leaders, that “no country has ever attained progress without science, technology, and human capital.”

It’s not yet too late for the country to invest more in S&T, says Agham’s Palmones, adding that the full implementation of the Magna Carta “can help harness the full potential of S&T and help the country reap optimum economic benefits.”

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Leadership is not a gift bestowed on a person, but is rather developed by tapping the seeds of one’s character and personality, honing skills and knowledge, and learning to work with others while sharing the qualities and traits of a good leader.

This is the message that noted leadership lecturer and trainer Dr. Vivian Gonzales wishes to extend to all who want to know how to be “the change you want to see in the world.”

She shares this message, and helps participants achieve their potentials for leadership at the STEP-VOP’s Integrative Leadership, Seminar Workshop Advancing Truth (SWAT) Journey on Feb. 6, Saturday, starting at 9 a.m. at the LRI Design Plaza, Nicanor Garcia St., Bel-Air, Makati.

An educator and administrator, Gonzales was for many years a professor of development management at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, and is the retired dean of student affairs under three chancellors there. A psychology graduate, Gonzales also holds a master’s degree in national security administration as well as in community development. She capped her academic credentials with a PhD in Philippine studies from UP Diliman.

The workshop focuses on the four levels of leadership, with team-building activities focused on the holistic development of one’s physical, mental, socioemotional and spiritual dimensions.

Those interested (they must be 18 years old and above) may call 8963208 or 09167463883 for more details.

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TAGS: Magna Carta for Science and Technology, pagasa, Salary Standardization Law 2015, Science, Technology
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