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“Consider local-based research projects with high impacts to communities and with sustainability parameters in the prioritization of research proposals.”

Dr. Ephrime Metillo, Professor at the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT), shared these points during a breakfast meeting of the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) on March 29, 2022. Metillo is also a Regular Member of the NRCP and currently the chair of the Council’s Mindanao cluster.

The said breakfast meeting focused on the presentation of committee reports and to gather comments and recommendations. Dr. Gregorio E.H. del Pilar, former NRCP President, presided the said meeting which was attended by members of the Governing Board (GB) and the chairs of the regional clusters.

On Mainstreaming Local-Based Projects

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Metillo shared the need to mainstream local-based research projects and consider these for discussion on the NRCP’s direction-setting and planning sessions. He cited that these lack recognition despite their high impacts to the communities. He likewise mentioned that high-impact projects should cascade to the grassroots’ level such as the fishermen, farmers, and the indigenous peoples (IPs).

“In Mindanao, there are local-based projects that are directly addressing community problems with concrete solutions. These projects can be replicated in other regions of the country,” stressed Metillo.

He cited, for example, projects under the NRCP Science and Technology Expert’s Pool (NSTEP) which are currently being implemented in Mindanao. One of which is the “Development of Integrated Biogas Systems for Slaughterhouse and Backyard Scale Farms” being conducted by the University of Science and Technology Southern Philippines.

Metillo said that the system developed by the project is now being applied in several communities. This not only benefits the environment but also improves the livelihood and health of the local farmers.

As a backgrounder, NSTEP is a project of the NRCP geared to promoting membership to the Council and to provide capacity-building for researches and scientists across the country.

Further, Metillo cited another NSTEP project titled, “Documentation and Publication of Indigenous Knowledge Systems of Textile Weaving and Design Traditions in Southern Philippines,” which is being conducted by the Philippine Women’s College of Davao. Accordingly, this project not only helps in cultural preservation but also in livelihood creation and ecotourism development for the communities.

“I hope that these small projects (referring to projects with low budget allocation) can be included in the NRCP’s database,” said Metillo, adding that there are potentials that can be explored. Moreover, he remarked that national proponents should also learn from the best practices of projects being implemented on the ground.

“Learning should be a two-way process. The regional level can learn from national experts while the later can also learn from local experts,” enthused Metillo.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ramon Eusebio, former NRCP GB Member, also emphasized the need to revisit NSTEP and provide additional funding saying “it’s a good project.”

Sustainability as a selection criterion

“While we have a Gender and Development (GAD) scoring, we should also have a sustainability scoring,” said Metillo.

He added that he has been pushing for the inclusion of sustainability parameters in the prioritization and selection of research proposals and projects in the Mindanao cluster. He mentioned that projects should be aligned with the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Who would not want to live in a sustainable society? It’s an undeniable fact that as humans, we rely on nature for our survival. If we cannot take care of nature, then we cannot have a sustainable future,” shared Metillo.

Relevantly, Metillo is one of the stakeholders of the Future Earth Philippines (FEP), a sustainability initiative supported by the NRCP. FEP aims to engage different researchers and scientists to generate research projects on different sustainability issues in the Philippines towards effecting policy change. //Daniel Jason M. Maches, Information Officer II, FAD-NRCP