March for Science started in the USA as a response to moves by the Trump administration to reject and silence scientific knowledge, especially climate-related data, to justify the lifting of environmental regulations and a “back to business” track for US oil and gas industries. At its beginnings, it was a broad call for the people to stand for science against Trump’s repression of scientific knowledge and information blackout on climate change.
As the impacts of Trump’s policies will affect not only the United States, the biggest historical carbon emitter, but the entire world, March for Science soon grew into a global movement of people to defend science as an indispensable tool for policy making and sustainable development.
In the Philippines, scientists, environmentalists, and grassroots organizations from various sectors will march on Earth Day 2017 to express solidarity for the global movement as well as advocate for a science and technology sector that will genuinely serve the interests of the majority. In the Philippine context, this advocacy is encapsulated in our call for the development of Filipino science and technology to serve nation building and the development of Filipino industries guided by people’s needs and environmental protection over profit.
The March for Science, Environment, and the People is a nationwide campaign that seeks to highlight how the struggle for the development of science and technology is intertwined with that of the environment and of the people: that science and technology can provide concrete solutions for the real issues faced by the Filipino people.
March for Science!
Science and technology (S&T) is a vital catalyst for national progress and development. This is especially true for a developing country like the Philippines where innovations in S&T can provide immediate relief for the people as well as contribute to the creation of long term solutions that address their issues at its roots. To enable S&T to contribute to genuine national progress, it needs to be developed under a comprehensive plan that is geared towards addressing domestic needs.
In the Philippines, S&T was historically applied not as an instrument for national development but as a means to answer foreign demand. Instead of a basic science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education that harnesses creativity and innovation, most basic STEM instruction teaches youth to be users and operators of. Philippine S&T has been stunted by neglect and non-prioritization as reflected in many programs and policies that restrict and actively obstruct its development, the most notable of which is the lack of a comprehensive plan for S&T development, constraining scientific endeavors to individual projects with no clear and unified goal. These lead our local S&T to be underdeveloped and backward in the face of global scientific advancement.
The backward and stunted state of S&T in the Philippines is aggravated by the lack of industries in the country, a situation which does not encourage the development of S&T. Unable to process our own products for domestic use, we are bound to the export of raw materials and import of finished products to meet our demands.
The little technology and modernization we do have is confined to city centers, making it inaccessible to a greater number of people in the rural areas, especially farmers, who would have benefited from rural development and agricultural modernization.
Our country lacks a comprehensive plan for the S&T sector that includes research and development (R&D) as one of its primary thrusts. With inadequate support for R&D, we are ill equipped to develop new technologies or improve on existing ones, as well as adapt emerging technology abroad to our local context.
This lack of support for S&T is one of the reasons why more and more scientists choose to work abroad where they are secured of their jobs and welfare. The few who stay face contractualization, lack of tenurial security, and absence of welfare and benefits, among others.
Science is a powerful tool that can cut both ways; while scientific and technological advances can be used for national development, it can also be used to repress it. There is a need to identify who stands to benefit from the science we are marching for.
We are marching for the development of a science and technology geared towards national industrialization, which in turn is oriented to address domestic needs and will benefit the majority of the Filipino people. Contrary to being a mere ‘technological fix’, the development of this type of S&T will aid in finding solutions to issues of the environment and of the people.
March for the Environment!
The issue of the environment is an issue of science and technology. While advancements in S&T have led to great strides in production, its use in the name of profit have led to massive resource extraction, hi-tech industries, and fossil fuel-reliant machines that wreak havoc on ecosystems, human health, and the future of the planet.
In the Philippine context, our rich natural resources such as minerals and ores, marine resources, and varied energy sources are extracted for export with little contribution to the domestic economy and the development of the local work force. For example, mineral production in the Philippines remains bound to the extraction phase as we lack industries to process minerals to end products. Our reliance on pollutive energy sources such as coal and the proposed use of the unstable and potentially harmful Bataan Nuclear Power Plant are other environmental issues we face.
Our underdeveloped science and technology also aggravates our inability to adapt to climate change. With the continuing plunder of natural resources and without the capacity to create or use technologies that increase our adaptability and resiliency in the face of major disasters, we are held even more vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change.
March for the People!
The Filipino people are burdened by many issues brought upon by our lack of domestic industries coupled with the backward and stunted state of S&T. A developed S&T can serve as a backbone towards the solution of the people’s issues. National industrialization will create industries for domestic needs, in turn producing jobs and products which the people need.
An S&T sector that is developed under a comprehensive plan geared towards national industrialization will help address the long standing issues faced by the people. More than developing S&T for its own sake, this type of S&T can genuinely serve in the interests of the people.