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Dr. Clarita R. Carlos as one of forum speakers.

The use of science to inform policy got a boost recently when the DOST-National Research Council of the Philippines partnered with the Congress of the Philippines in slating its 2nd Legislative Scientific Forum for Policy Development on November 6-7, 2019 at the House of Representatives in Quezon City.

NRCP, the country’s advisory body on S&T, has been vigorous in promoting evidence-based policy-making so that science will become accessible for decision makers and to ensure that funded researches are producing impacts.

Evidence-based policy employs the use of empirical data and is evaluated using an empirical approach. Developed countries such as the US and UK have been using evidence-based policy making for decades to guide social interventions and spend public funds more effectively. However, the use of evidence-based policy-making is said to be less established in developing countries such as the Philippines in which passing legislations backed by irrefutable data is a big challenge.

 

Admittedly “the bill writers are normally lawyers and our understanding of science is somewhat limited. It is important that scientific information such as these are presented to us, said Atty. Jose Noel Garong, director of Bill Drafting Service, Legislative Operations Department” during the NRCP’s First Legislative Forum held at Congress months before.

“You should put data first before crafting any legislation. Your data should be solid and must be acquired from thorough and systematic inquiry,” said Dr. Clarita R. Carlos, Political Science professor at the University of the Philippines Diliman and NRCP Governing Board Member-at-Large, who is one of the forum speakers.

Dr. Carlos said that this is one of the reasons why the country has overlapping laws and gaps in their implementation. “Do not put ‘make up’ on your bills. We should move from this [style] to a more systematic approach that uses scientific evidence to support good policies,” Dr. Carlos added.

The NRCP’s partnership with the House of Representatives is a strategic move to help law makers gain deeper understanding, relevance and appreciation of science and their positive use in policy-making.

Bohol Second District Representative Aristotle Aumentado pledged support to this initiative and said that while there are competing interests among stakeholders, policies must be built on a “framework that would serve the common good and that is the development of the people.”

This legislative forum was also highlighted with the presentation of results of a project funded by NRCP. The project on the use of biomarkers for monitoring the estrogen pollution of Laguna de Bay lent important recommendations that could aid in improving the existing environmental pollution monitoring protocols. This project was led by Dr. Michelle Grace Paraso, a member of NRCP and a researcher at the University of the Philippines Los Baños.

The first legislative forum presented the successful findings of NRCP’s GMAP (greening mined-out project), in which beneficial indigenous microbes were used to rehabilitate two hectares of abandoned mined out area in Mogpog, Marinduque. This technology has already been adopted by other municipalities in their mine rehabilitation program and being endorsed by Congress to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for replication. (Mary Charlotte O. Fresco)