Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Republic of the Philippines

Press Statement


To enhance the country's academic and economic competitiveness-especially after 2015 when the ASEAN economic community becomes a reality-the Philippine Government strongly supported the implementation of the Philippine-California Advanced Research Institutes (PCARI) Project, earmarking a special P1.763 Billion appropriation under Special Provision No. 6 "Allocation for the Research and Scholarship Project" of Republic Act No. 10352, otherwise known as the General Appropriations Act (GAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013.

This unprecedented government initiative is a' response to the disturbing reality that the Philippines is seriously lagging behind its neighbors in terms of having a sustainable university-based research infrastructure for technological innovation. For instance, it continues to trail behind China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and even Vietnam in some critical indicators such as the number of high-level researchers and quality of scientific output. Moreover, it is also now in the second tier-with Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand in the first tier-behind Indonesia and Vietnam in terms of research and scientific outputs.

A major public investment to help the country catch up, the PCARI Project aims to develop over a five-year period the capabilities for high-end research of Filipino scientists and researchers in leading public and private universities and colleges, thus laying the human infrastructure for the production of a critical volume of quality scientific research that will translate into innovations and cutting edge technologies. Like many other countries-e.g. Rwanda, Botswana, Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China and Chile-the Project seeks to do so by linking Philippine higher education institutions (HEls) with elite research universities that have successfully produced leading-edge technologies in potential niches of the country.

The PCARI Project will specifically support joint research for capacity building between Philippine HEls and leading universities in California, USA, initially, with the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and the University of California Berkeley (UCB) to tap into their world-recognized expertise in translational medicine and in information infrastructure development, respectively. The project is covered by the 2012 Agreement between the Government of the United States of America
and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines on Scientific and Technological Cooperation.

The Philippine-based HEls will be initially drawn from the member institutions of the Engineering Research and Development for Technology (ERDT) and the National Science Consortium (NSC), formal associations of top ranked Philippine HEIs in the fields of Engineering and Science. These HEIs have been recipients of government research grants not only from CHED but also from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

To carry out the project, CHED has established a Project Management and Coordination Office (PMCO) headed by Dr. William G. Padolina, former Secretary of the DOST and current president of the National Academy of Science and Technology. Dr. Padolina shall oversee the establishment of two institutes for
purposes of implementing the priority areas stated in the GAA: The Institute for Information Infrastructure Development (IIID) with Dr. Joel Marciano Jr. as Interim Director and The Institute for Health Innovation and Translational Medicine (IHITM)' with Dr. Carmencita Padilla as Interim Director.

The Institute for Information Infrastructure Development (IIID) is tasked to develop: 1) Electronic computing and communication system and devices for effective generation, processing, management and dissemination of relevant, accurate timely and actionable data that support and enhance disaster risk management and response, environmental monitoring, education, cyber security, agriculture, energy generation monitoring, inclusive governance through e-Government/e-Participation in the Philippines; and 2) Innovation in computing, software, communications and electronic technologies and techniques - including experimental validation of testing for wireless networks, micro-grids, information technology (IT) security, micro-electronics and advanced materials, embedded
sensors and computers - leading towards translation into industry, which enhance the competitiveness of the Semi-conductors and Electronic manufacturing and Information and Communication Technology sectors in the country.

The Institute for Health Innovation and Translational Medicine (IHITM), on the other hand, will develop the following for the diseases on the list of the ten highest causes of morbidity and the ten highest causes of mortality in the Philippines: rapid and affordable diagnostic tests; targeted drug therapy and' affordable medical devices for an array of diseases and health practitioners; and viable and effective health intervention systems.

Apart from enhancing capacities through involvement in high-end research, the outputs of the PCARI Project over a five-year period, with budgetary support of Pl. 763B per year include a pool of masters/doctoral grantees; Research Development and Innovation (RDI) workers; creation of several unique programs (e.g. Master in Translational Medicine, Master of Engineering, Master of Advanced Studies in Integrated Circuit Design, Master in Clinical Research; capstone on information infrastructure technology and certificate programs including training on Technopreneurship); trained RDI management, grant administrators, human resource managers for RDI, Intellectual Property, among others.

Since the budget for each approved collaborative research project between the UCB and UCSF and the collaborating Philippine HEls shall be funded by the Philippine Government, through CHED, the provisions of Republic Act No. 8293, as amended, also known as the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines, and Republic Act No. 10055, also known as the Philippine Technology Transfer Act of 20091 shall govern 1 where applicable, the inventorship and ownership of intellectual properties and intellectual property rights as a result of the implementation of the approved collaborative research project.

CHED emphasized that under the contract documents that are being negotiated with UCB and UCSF1 the two institutions even agreed to be subjected to Philippine Commission on Audit post-audit review and evaluation as regards the financial transactions of the research projects approved for PCARI Project funding. The PCARl Project contract documents have been endorsed to the Secretary of the Department of Justice for appropriate review, evaluation and go signal for implementation. Since the projects are still going through the approval process, very little of the budget for 2013 has been spent. The research proposals have been initially reviewed by CHED and submitted for evaluation by DOH and DOST.

Under the CHED Charter, Republic Act No. 7722, the Commission is mandated Lo promote, direct and support higher education institutions in performing their research and instructional functions. In line with this mandate, the National Higher Education Research (NHERA) Agenda 2 for the period 2009-2018, which CHED developed with partner institutions, encourages partnerships and collaborations between Philippine HEls with other research institutions both local and foreign in the conduct of research and the application of its outputs.

In response to queries about what the Philippine HEIs can gain from a partnership with the University of California (UC), CHED clarified that the UC is at the forefront of the science, technology and know-how in the two identified research priority areas indicated in the 2013 GAA provision: information infrastructure development (IID) and health innovation and translational medicine (HITM). The access alone to the know-how accumulated through years of high quality research provides a rare opportunity to enhance the capacity of Filipino researchers.

Furthermore, upon approval of the projects, the extent of the involvement of UC in the execution of the research plan is significant because parts of the experiments will be conducted in the UC high end laboratories to accelerate the pace of the experiments as their laboratories and other project facilities already possess state-of-the-art equipment.

CHED also pointed out that the procurement process that led to the selection of the UCB and UCSF in fact complies with the conditions expressly provided in the Special Provision No. 6 of the 2013 GAA, namely, the appropriate and premier California public institution of higher learning with specialization in the areas of translational medicine and information infrastructure development. It is also in accordance with the congressional deliberations during the 2013 Budget hearings of CHED. 

The Fellows and Researchers who will carry out the peer-reviewed and fully evaluated joint research projects would have the technical know-how, specialized knowledge, professional skills and expertise required. CHED made clear, however, that the agreements covering the PCARl Project will be between CHED and UCB or UCSF, and the Philippine HEls, and not with the individual researchers themselves.

CHED also clarified that former Commissioner Nona S. Ricafort's 2nd term expired on July 20, 2013, although she served thereafter on holdover capacity. While it is claimed that she had resigned through an alleged letter to the ~resident, she continued to report to the CHED office and held Board meetings with the State Universities and Colleges assigned to her. The new commissioners took their oath a day after their appointment by President Benigno S. Aquino III on September 24, 2013.

On the other hand, CHED Director Carmina B. Alonzo, in a letter to Chairperson Licuanan dated October 2, 2013, disavowed having given any reporter a letter which. is being cited as source of the claims of the alleged anomalies in the PCARl Project.

lssued this 3rd day of October 2013 at the Higher Education Development Center Building, U.P. Campus, Diliman, Quezon City.


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