Legarda: Innovation is key to inclusive growth and development

February 21, 2022

Almost three years after the enactment of the Philippine Innovation Act, its principal author, three-term Senator Loren Legarda maintained that innovation and competitiveness are vital strategies towards pursuing sustainable economic growth.

Now a Senatorial aspirant, Legarda stated that when implemented properly, the principles embodied in Republic Act No. 11293 will not only help the country produce highly skilled members of our workforce, but also help further enhance the capacities of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and allied sectors.

Legarda likewise stressed that the national government may utilize science, innovation, and technology in transforming the Philippines into a competitive nation saying that, “we must adopt a broader view in developing its goals and strategies covering all potential types and sources of innovation.”

In view of this, Legarda urged the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the Department of Trade Industry (DTI), and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to ensure that the law is adequately funded and that the pressing needs of the various sectors, particularly the MSMEs, are properly addressed. These include access to finance, coaching, and mentoring in the areas of design, technology extension services, quality control, marketing and promotion, patents and other forms of intellectual property rights, among others.

Legarda also pointed out that by putting a premium on innovation, government agencies can pursue convergence with other institutions in order to add greater value to already existing programs, citing the convergence between the DOST and the University of Antique (UA) as an example.

The DOST’s Community Empowerment through Science and Technology (CEST), which Legarda funded under the 2019 national budget, established livelihood support hubs in UA campuses and technology-based barangay economic enterprises (TechnoBEEs) in select municipalities in her home province. These granted assistance and support to MSMEs, taking into consideration the available agricultural produce and resources in the municipality.

This project provided Antiqueños not only with the opportunity to enhance their knowledge and expertise. More importantly, it also generated employment and entrepreneurial opportunities, increased the productivity level of the municipalities, and even curbed the problem of malnutrition through the production of DOST-FNRI complementary food.

Legarda also recalled the convergence project between the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), under its Shared Service Facilities (SSF) program and the Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (DMMMSU) in Bacnotan, La Union which she funded under the 2018 national budget. This project, which involved silk processing and weaving, introduced sericulture to the residents and gave them gainful employment, while promoting the silk industry in the province.

The other SSF projects which Legarda supported in recent year included, among others, fish processing which provides additional income for coastal communities, fisherfolk and their families; homemade ice cream production, which utilizes the community’s dairy produce; and the craft of weaving, which supports traditional weavers and boosts the income of farmers who plant the pineapple, abaca, and banana from which the fibers used in weaving are derived.

During Legarda’s stint as Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance in 2018, the budget allocation of SSF increased from 50 million to 1 billion, thus allowing more MSMEs all over the country to access capital, skills building and technical assistance.

“MSMEs constitute 99.5% of our local economy. Training, research and development efforts are needed for the MSMEs to come up with innovative and useful products that can be sold in the market and benefit the consumers,” she added.

“We have to ensure the effective implementation of and adequate funding for the enabling programs under the Philippine Innovation Act to help MSMEs sustain and promote their businesses, not just in the domestic market, but also in the global arena,” Legarda concluded.