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DOST encourages Filipino scientists to return and practice in the Philippines

by UNTV   |   Posted on Thursday, December 7th, 2017

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) acknowledges the vital role of Filipino scientists in the country’s various sectors and economy.

Among them is Dr. Divina Amalin, an expert in terminating pests and one of those who discovered the predators of the pest Cocolisap that destroyed thousands of coconut trees in the country.

She worked in the Univesity of Florida and in the US agriculture department but decided to return to the Philippines in 2010 to practice in her home country and also for family reasons.

Amalin said that the government will definitely save funds thru the Balik Scientist program.

“Hindi na mag-spend ng more funding to generate technology ’cause Filipinoipino scientist abroad had already gained knowledge on technology that Philippines can adapt and can be modified,” said Amalin.

Engineer Leo Almazan, meanwhile, served as a US naval officer and was assigned to the naval warfare center in San Diego, USA.

“The uniqueness really is the expertise. We know and we already know what’s gonna go wrong so you don’t wanna duplicate or reinvent the wheel because we already know what’s gonna happen,” said Almazan.

DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said, around 569 Filipinos responded to their Balik Scientist program. However, only 187 preferred to stay in the country.

He said that the Philippines’ ranking has now improved in terms of the numbers of scientists though it still needs to increase.

“If you talk of the global competitiveness index where there are about 137 countries enlisted, we are somewhere in the 56th rank,” said the secretary.

“In the global innovation index, the number 73 rank now is an improvement from the 90th rank in 2013,” he added.

Dela Peña added that foreign investors are not so interested to venure in the country’s science and technology services due to the scarcity of experts.

De La Peña said the budget department needs to create additional positions to accommodate more scientist.

“Kung scholarships bibigay sila. Kung pampatayo ng building bibigay sila. Pero yung pag-magcreate ka ng bagong positions for researchers and scientists napakahirap,” said De La Peña. — Rey Pelayo | UNTV News & Rescue



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DBM launches project monitoring technology to prevent ghost projects

by UNTV   |   Posted on Thursday, March 8th, 2018

DBM Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno

MANILA, Philippines — The government is strictly monitoring the implementation of government projects and programs to fight corruption.

These include the infrastructure projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program.

In connection with this, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has launched “Project Dime” or Digital Imaging for Monitoring and Evaluation.

In the said project, the agency will use different technologies like lidar, geotagging, satellites and drones to monitor the development of projects.

“So no more ghost projects as a result of this, because we don’t need to send people up there in the mountain to monitor. We can see them thru satellites,” said the budget secretary.

This 2018, DBM will monitor 75 major projects.

These comprise the construction of access roads leading to airports and seaports, new facilities of the health department, railway projects, and irrigation.

If these projects will be found idle or without any development, they will be reported directly to the President.

“And we can report this to the President and then eventually if there is a case, we can leave it to the ombudsman,” said Diokno.

According to DBM, with the new monitoring system, corruption and the number of lazy officials will be reduced. — Nel Maribojoc | UNTV News & Rescue


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U.S. to modernize nuclear capabilities with an eye on Russia

by UNTV   |   Posted on Monday, February 5th, 2018

Concerned about Russia’s growing tactical nuclear weapons, the United States will modernize its nuclear ‘triad’ – land, sea, air – capabilities, top Pentagon, and state department officials said on Friday.

Some critics said the decision could increase the risk of miscalculation between the two countries.

“We call on all states possessing nuclear weapons to declare or to maintain a moratorium on nuclear testing. Going forward, we are also eager to increase transparency and predictability to avoid miscalculation among nuclear weapons states and other possessor states. That includes re-establishing the conditions necessary for greater trust with Russia, and improved transparency with China as it expands and modernizes its nuclear forces,” said Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Tom Shannon.

It represents the latest sign of hardening resolve by President Donald Trump’s administration to address challenges from Russia, at the same time he is pushing for improved ties with Moscow to rein in a nuclear North Korea.

The focus on Russia is in line with the Pentagon shifting priorities from the fight against Islamist militants to “great power competition” with Moscow and Beijing.

The rationale for building up new nuclear capabilities, U.S. officials said, is that Russia currently perceives the United States’ nuclear posture and capabilities as inadequate.

“We must keep America’s deterrent credible by making it modern. The 2018 NPR [Nuclear Posture Review] calls for modernizing the nuclear triad and command and control system, which is necessary, affordable, and long overdue. Our nuclear triad has kept us safe for over 70 years. We cannot afford to let it become obsolete,” said Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan.

The Pentagon’s NPR, which is largely in line with the previous review in 2010, said the U.S. will modify a small number of submarine-launched ballistic missile warheads with low-yield options. — Reuters



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China’s top paper says U.S. forcing China to accelerate South China Sea deployments

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, January 22nd, 2018

FILE PHOTO – Chinese official prepares the flags for the China-USA bilateral meeting at the G20 leaders summit in Hamburg, Germany July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s top newspaper, decrying Washington as a trouble-maker, said on Monday U.S. moves in the South China Sea like last week’s freedom of navigation operation will only cause China to strengthen its deployments in the disputed waterway.

China’s foreign ministry said the USS Hopper, a destroyer, came within 12 nautical miles of Huangyan island, which is better known as the Scarborough Shoal and is subject to a rival claim by the Philippines, a historic ally of the United States.

It was the latest U.S. naval operation challenging extensive Chinese claims in the South China Sea and came even as President Donald Trump’s administration seeks Chinese cooperation in dealing with North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.

The ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily said in a commentary that, with the situation generally improving in the South China Sea, it was clear that the United States was the one militarizing the region.

“Against this backdrop of peace and cooperation, a U.S. ship wantonly provoking trouble is singleminded to the point of recklessness,” the paper said.

“If the relevant party once more makes trouble out of nothing and causes tensions, then it will only cause China to reach this conclusion: in order to earnestly protect peace in the South China Sea, China must strengthen and speed up the building of its abilities there,” it said.

The commentary was published under the pen name “Zhong Sheng”, meaning “Voice of China”, which is often used to give the paper’s view on foreign policy issues.

The widely read Global Times tabloid, published by the People’s Daily, said in an editorial on Monday China’s control of the South China Sea is only growing and it is well placed to react to U.S. “provocations”.

“As China’s military size and quality improve, so does its control of the South China Sea,” it said. “China is able to send more naval vessels as a response and can take steps like militarizing islands.”

The Scarborough Shoal is located within the Philippines’ 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone but an international tribunal in 2016 ruled that it is a traditional fishing ground that no one country has sole rights to exploit.

The U.S. military says it carries out “freedom of navigation” operations throughout the world, including in areas claimed by allies, and that they are separate from political considerations.

The Pentagon has not commented directly on the latest patrol but said such operations are routine.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Paul Tait

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