By Allan Mauro V. Marfal (The Manila Times)

More than 200 students and science and technology (S&T) professionals displaced in the five-month Marawi City siege will be granted scholarships by the Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute (DoST-SEI).

A scholarship grant has been formalized through the project DOST-SEI Bangon Marawi Program on Science and Technology Human Resources Development.

In a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) signed on January 26 at the main campus of the Mindanao State
University in Marawi City by the DoST-SEI and the MSU System, the DoST-SEI will provide scholarship grants to 225 select undergraduate students in the MSU Marawi City campus.

The grantees, now taking up science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses, will receive P10,000 per semester for tuition, P6,000 monthly allowance and P10,000 yearly book allowance.

The DoST-SEI will also provide financial assistance to select S&T professionals in Marawi City who are pursuing higher studies in science and engineering in any of the DoST-accredited universities.

Twenty slots will be allotted to full-time graduate students who will receive P25,000 monthly allowance, P10,000 book allowance per year and P200,000 research grant assistance, plus the amount of the actual tuition in their chosen universities.

Ten slots will also be given to full-time PhD scholars who will receive P33,000 monthly allowance, P10,000 book allowance per year and P475,000 research assistance, plus the amount of the actual tuition in their chosen universities.

“With the heightened need to help rebuild Marawi City and the greater Mindanao area, the DoST-SEI is here to open opportunities for our children to continue their tertiary studies in STEM and achieve a future that is far removed from the effects of the war,” said DoST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña.

The five-month siege of Marawi City wrought massive damages on many establishments including schools.

De la Peña said granting S&T scholarships is one strategy to help restore Marawi’s human and social infrastructure, especially much-needed human resources in the science and technology sector.

Meanwhile, Josette Biyo, DoST-SEI director, said many consultative meetings were held in recent months to discuss how the DoST-SEI could aid in rehabilitation efforts in Marawi City.

“This program will enable displaced students and S&T professionals to get back on their feet and be instrumental in restoring the old beauty of Marawi City,” Dr. Biyo said.

MSU President Dr. Habib Macaayong said producing highly-skilled professionals, particularly in S&T, could play an integral part in the sustainable development of Marawi City.

Biyo said a scholarship grantee should maintain a passing grade in all academic subjects every semester until completion of his/her course while graduate students should maintain a general weighted average set by the university and the DoST-SEI.

By Mark Roland A. Romas, USJ-R Intern

CEBU, Philippines — To improve the quality of life in Central Visayas through technology and innovation, DigiBayanihan inaugurated yesterday its first ever Center of Excellence at the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) compound in Barangay Banilad, Cebu City.

DigiBayanihan is an initiative of the international non-government organization, Asia Society for Social Improvement and Sustainable Transformation (ASSIST), aimed at providing digital literacy and digital citizenship to the community. The program is also supported by Google.ph.

ASSIST has been in the Philippines for 15 years and has a goal of ?improving social dimensions of the Filipinos by respecting environment thru doing sustainable transformation in communities.

The organization also has ?offices in Vietnam, India, Cambodia and projects in Nepal, Myanmar and Indonesia.

Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella and DOST-7 director Edilberto Paradela led the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Labella said the city government is also supporting the initiative.

"There is no reason for the city of Cebu not to support the system," he said.

He said the DigiBayanihan will help the Cebuanos, most especially the young people, to be involved in entrepreneurship.

Paradela said the DOST is thankful for DigiBayanihan because this will help them in addressing the need of advancement of technology in all aspects of life in the region.

"In partnership and completion of this program, we can further enhance our mission of bringing science and technology for better lives of the Cebuanos and the rest of Central Visayas," he said.

He said that this kind of partnership will help them motivate the Filipinos to stay in the country instead of going abroad.

"We want to involve the marginalized or poor in doing business so that they have opportunity to stay and remain in their place," he said.

"This is one way of improving the quality of education in the region, making them excel among fellow youth in the country," he added.

ASSIST managing director Sreenivas Narayanan; DigiBayanihan partnership consultant Nimfa Alo; and program manager Mary Ann Mendoza were also present during the ceremony. Narayanan said that currently, DigiBayanihan has two contents that would help young people.

First is Career Engine, a social platform designed to prepare graduating college students to be ready in the industry through training videos and downloadable supplementary materials for them to develop the appropriate mindset in looking for the right career.

Second is Test Hero, it is an online test reviewing portal which enables the high school students to practice their ability in answering critical questions. It is aimed at democratizing education by making its content free, comprehensive, and accessible to all.

He said the direct impact of the program in the Visayas region includes the improvement of quality of education, providing trainings to communities and schools, and helping young individuals get easily employed.

According to Narayanan, they are aiming to build six Centers of Excellence in Visayas and Mindanao to reach to the grassroots community.

They are also planning to conduct capacity building certification trainings to its content users, public library staff, teachers and other community members that advocate the same goal in order to have a domino effect in the region.

By Madelaine B. Miraflor

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will spend nearly P1 billion to conduct geological investigation and exploration of minerals within the Philippine Rise, a 25-million hectare shallow continental shelf east of the main island of Luzon that could be the next big source of huge revenues for the Philippine government.

Jonas Leones, a newly designated DENR spokesperson, said the DENR has allotted a separate budget for Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) and Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to conduct their own exploration in Philippine Rise.

According to him, the budget for both agencies could reach P500 million each or likely the same amount they received in 2017.

Leones’ statement came a day after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the cessation of all marine explorations and studies by foreign scientists in Philippine Rise, formerly called Benham Rise.

For his part, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said it is only right for Duterte to make such call since Filipinos are capable to do such explorations.

Leones, who also serves as DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs, said there is now a call for coordination among government agencies in terms of the exploration in Philippine Rise.

Aside from DENR, agencies involved include Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) and Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

Leones said DOST is being eyed to consolidate all the exploration efforts in the shelf. It was Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol who first announced Duterte’s decision to stop all foreign-led explorations in Philippine Rise.

According to him, the President directed the Philippine Navy to “chase out” any vessel fishing or conducting researches in the 13-million hectare continental shelf.

“Let me be very clear about this: the Philippine Rise is ours and any insinuation that it is open to everybody should end with this declaration,” Duterte said, as cited by Piñol.

Duterte then directed the Department of National Defense to deploy Navy vessels and the Philippine Air Force to conduct fly overs in the area to check on the presence of foreign vessels.

Piñol said the DA, for its part, is ready to dispatch its two new Multi-Mission Off-shore Vessels BRP Lapulapu and BRP Francisco Dagohoy to the area to monitor the presence of foreign groups.

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