Senator Edgardo J. Angara underscored the need for government to interface more with the country’s many academic institutions, as he lauded the recent presentation of a paper on reforming Philippine labor policies from Dr. Gerado Sicat for the UP President Edgardo J. Angara (PEJA) Fellowship.
“Government can only meaningfully govern if it is guided by correct data and information,” said Angara, who served as President of the University of the Philippines (UP) before first becoming senator in 1987. “Unfortunately, government officials do not always have access to such knowledge.”
“On the other hand, the academe fulfills its role in nation-building when they actively produce the policy studies that government can refer to when making very difficult political choices. This kind of partnership must be institutionalized.”
The veteran lawmaker then explained that this was the motivation behind the UP PEJA Fellowship, established in 2008 by the UP Board of Regents during the UP Centennial.
He added that through the philanthropy of friends and family, as much as P50 million was raised for the fellowship program.
The initiative aims to reward and recognize high-level research conducted by UP intellectuals and as well as to spur further discussion on the country's development goals and policies. The topics covered are science and technology; fiscal, budget and financial studies; agriculture and rural development; and environment and climate change.
The first batch of UP PEJA Fellows included Dr. Raul Fabella of the UP School of Economics (UPSE); Dr. Raul Pangalanan of the UP College of Law; and Dr. Ramon Pedro Paterno of the Institute of Health Policy and Development Studies of UP Manila.
Dr. Sicat was the last of this inaugural batch to present. In his paper, the professor emeritus of the UPSE proposed the establishment of special industrial and agricultural zones outside the highly urbanized, metropolitan areas of the country.
Catering to labor extensive companies, these “Export Processing Zones” are expected to boost productivity and help provide gainful income to the many Filipinos who are either unemployed or underemployed.
“Dr. Sicat’s presentation, as well as the three others that came before his, set a very good precedent on how government and the academe must interact,” said Angara. “Only through such engaged and enlightened discussions can we formulate the public policies our country needs to grow and prosper.”(30)