Angara identifies COMSTE priority projects for 2011
By Jason de Asis

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, November 25, 2010-Senator Edgardo J. Angara, Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science and Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), identified their priority projects for 2011 such as Telemedicine, Remote-Sensing for Agriculture, Electronic Vehicles and Green Transport and Disaster Science.

He said that the country is one that kept relatively strong economic growth throughout the global recession and the world's fastest growing economies have shown more pressing now than ever and has the capability to create knowledge and harness innovation.

Angara calls for firm and consistent funding for education particularly science and technology, research and development. Science and technology is crucial to the national life and development.

“It is a blatant truth that the country cannot hope to catch up with highly competitive neighbors and great increase in population unless we trigger development through science and technology (R&D),” he said, adding that the number of scientists and engineers involved in R&D in the country is only 152 per 1 million people, which is less than half of the ratio recommended by the United Nations to attain sustainable development.

They also injected R&D funding into selected state colleges and universities (SUC's) across the country so knowledge and innovation can be harnessed as optimally as possible.

COMSTE renewed its commitment to further revolutionize the delivery of basic health services to remote areas throughout the country through telemedicine which allows physicians to perform remote diagnosis of patients from far-flung areas underserved by traditional medical care.

Telemedicine will create the foundation for digital medical record, by collecting data from patients nationwide.

Relative to this, the Senator is pushing for the implementation of Remote-Sensing for Agriculture Project which utilizes ICT to provide farmers with the latest market data on agriculture.

He said that competitive agriculture means effectively and efficiently growing high value crops using remote sensing to anticipate heavy rains or drought, understanding the effects of climate change and pollution on productivity, and having an integrated view of the logistics of produce delivery to the market.

Other priority project of COMSTE is the Electronic Vehicles and Green Transport which will hugely benefit tourism, renewable energy, and electronics industries. The electric vehicles are viewed as the vehicles technology of the future.

As one of the first to adopt the technology, the industry could open up a big export market for the country. Green transport solutions also take advantage of using waste-to-energy technologies to fuel e-vehicles.

The Disaster Science Project of COMSTE aims to upgrade the current capabilities of government to forecast weather, send out reliable warnings, and to develop preparedness to the fullest level the country and the populace on the onset of disastrous events, and to rehabilitate on the aftermath of such events wherein the Senator would like to establish a Philippine Disaster Science Center (PDSC) to help safeguard national security and eventually become a regional hub for disaster science. 

Angara concluded that the typhoons that devastated the Philippines and the peoples’ livelihood have made it imperative to fund the modernization of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), adding that the country needs to be equipped with the best forecasting capabilities to be able to adequately prepare and mitigate natural disasters.  (Jason de Asis)