Scientists, environmentalists, science workers, and students headed by AGHAM – Advocates of Science and Technology for the People gathered on Wednesday at the launching of the March for Science, Environment, and the People to call for environmental justice and greater support to science and technology that will genuinely serve the interests of the people.
The March for Science started as a call to stand for science against Trump’s repression of scientific knowledge and information blackout on climate change. It soon grew into a global movement of people to promote science as an indispensable tool for policy-making and sustainable development.
In the Philippines, AGHAM together with various organizations will lead the local satellite march titled March for Science, Environment, and the People which will express solidarity with the global movement as well as highlight how science and technology (S&T) can help craft concrete solutions for the real issues faced by Filipino people.
Marlo Asis, a Fellow of the Cornell Alliance for Science, outlined the international context of the March for Science: “It will mark its place in history as the biggest gathering of scientists from across the globe to defend science in light of Trump’s anti-science and anti-people stance. His actions such as the budget cuts on public sector research and development (R&D) is a big setback in using science to pursue evidence-based policies.”
March for Science Philippines coordinator Cleng Julve emphasized the importance of the country’s participation in the global action: “We are one with the scientists in the US who are directly affected by the various moves of President Trump’s administration. The censorship of pertinent data on climate change, food security, and medical information is a huge consequence for countries like the Phillippines where scientific information or misinformation can determine life or death especially to people living in vulnerable communities that bear the brunt of the adverse effects of climate change.”
The local leg of the #GlobalScienceMarch presents the backward state of Philippine science and technology as a major hindrance to using S&T for genuine national development. This was elaborated by a student scientist and a scientist working in a government agency.
Student scientist Ezron Cabrera of AGHAM Youth discussed the future of young scientists who are being trained under an education system that is geared towards answering foreign demands instead of domestic needs: “Science education is not separate from the general situation of education in the country. The current commercialized education system makes basic science education inaccessible to the wide masses. It also discourages young students to take up science courses which are seen as non-profitable investments.”
Krista Melgarejo of the Standards and Testing Automated Modular Platform in UP Diliman lamented the inability of scientists to fulfill their roles in helping address many problems faced by the Filipino people: “The historical neglect of S&T is reflected in the lack of support for Filipino scientists and technologists. There are very limited opportunities available for S&T workers in the country; the few that are available are laden with schemes such as contractualization where employees have no tenurial security and do not have adequate welfare and benefits.”
Environmentalists also highlighted the issue of the environment. Jordan Fronda of UP Saribuhay underscored the need to involve the youth in the discussions specifically on issues concerning the environment and the people: “President Trump’s denial of scientific facts about climate change aggravates the effects of the contributions of transnational corporations to climate change. These further exacerbate environmental destruction, making it more difficult for vulnerable communities to adapt to extreme weather events.”
Enteng Bautista of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment criticized the current policies in research and development: “The low priority and budget given to R&D, especially environment-related R&D, is manifested in the lack of technological advancements that could have replaced the use of environmentally destructive processes in extractive industries such as mining. This neglect of R&D also results in our failure to maximize indigenous energy resources in the country.”
Feny Cosico of AGHAM posed a challenge to fellow scientists: “We enjoin all scientists to March with us this Earth day to push for a pro-people, pro-environment S&T geared towards the national development. We are enthusiastic that the March for Science will continue to raise the social consciousness of scientists beyond this event and that they will continue to advocate a science and technology that truly serves the interests of the people.”
The March for Science, Environment, and the People wil be held on April 22, 7 am at the Quezon Memorial Circle, Quezon City, Philippines.