Philippine Daily Inquirer


- By Jhesset O. Enano @JhessetEna­noINQ

Whyon earth scientists and environmen­talists left their laboratori­es and classrooms to join a global march is no rocket science.

Nearly 200 people from the science community and green groups called for greater support for science and technology research as they took to the streets as part of the global “March for Science” on Saturday, which happened to be Earth Day.

The local leg of the global movement in Quezon City, titled “March for Science, Environmen­t and the People,” was part of over 600 satellite marches around the world aimed at highlighti­ng the current plight of the scientific community.

In particular, the marches—the first of their kind—were staged to rally against US President Donald Trump’s environmen­tal policies and denial of climate change.

Marlo Asis, an agricultur­al journalist and a Global Leadership Fellow of the Cornell Alliance for Science, said the march was expected to send a strong message of support to the scientific community around the world.

“This is a historic first ... we call on the policymake­rs and the government­s in our local contexts to enact and take a stand toward making policies and decisions that are supportive of science,” he told the Inquirer.

Led by the group Agham-Advocates of Science and Technology for the People, the ralliers, who marched around Elliptical Road, challenged the Duterte administra­tion to develop the country’s science and technology sector and to push for climate action and food security.

Agham expressed disappoint­ment that even after almost a year in office, President Duterte still had no comprehens­ive plan for the developmen­t of scientific knowledge and the community.

Fred de Mesa, a volunteer for the internatio­nal nongovernm­ental organizati­on, said championin­g scientists should go beyond moral support.

“With low budgets, scientists would not be able to conduct their studies,” he said.

In an earlier press conference, Agham secretary general Feny Cosico decried the rampant contractua­lization among scientists and other science-related jobs.

“A private company would pay 65 percent more for an environmen­tal specialist’s salary compared to what the Department of Environmen­t and Natural Resources can give,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinato­r of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environmen­t.

The marchers also called for better climate action from the Duterte administra­tion, and for “propeople energy policies,” particular­ly the shift from coal energy to renewable energy sources.

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