The capacity of the Filipinos to undertake in-depth energy research on policies as well as technological innovations may eventually be enhanced, with the approval on the establishment of the proposed Philippine Energy Research and Policy Institute (PERPI) that will be attached to the University of the Philippines (UP), the premiere state university.
The proposed energy research body will source its funding from the government, based on the prescription of Republic Act 11572 or the law that underpinned the creation of PERPI.
Senate Committee on Energy Chairman Sherwin T. Gatchalian is envisioning that PERPI will be manned by seasoned academicians and energy sector professionals – although in reality, that is the palpable ‘missing piece’ that the country will need to work on because it does not really have energy experts to depend on when it comes to undertaking comprehensive and well thought-out energy research works.
Even the academic institutions, at this point, have very fledgling knowledge and profundity when it comes to energy issues and concerns – especially the type of researchers who could serve as ‘independent thinkers’ and not just swayed by lobbying-anchored and sponsored research works of which outcomes have heavy leaning on the desired result of the sponsors or funders.
As framed in the law, Gatchalian emphasized that PERPI will be “a think tank, a laboratory, an innovation incubator, and a sparring partner of the government energy policy apparatus all-in-one.”
In other countries, energy research bodies and institutes serve as ‘enablers’ of wise policy decision-making as well as prime movers of innovation – and they don’t confine survival to State funding, instead they strive to become self-financed institutions, so they can operate independently.
The Philippines, in particular, will have to start from scratch when it comes to energy research activities because this is not a discipline seriously thought in universities and colleges at this time; and even academicians are not whip-smart on this subject matter.
But once PERPI reaches certain level of maturity, the lawmaker-author noted that the institute’s research and policy development activities “can be utilized to craft energy sector reforms for the benefit of the national economy and the lives of the Filipino people.”
At its inception phase, Gatchalian stated that the research body will have “to establish linkages with government agencies, other universities and private and public institutions on existing energy research and policy studies.”
PERPI, he added, will likewise “develop programs and capacity-building trainings on energy, enhance the masters and doctoral pool of researchers and faculty in the field of energy; and serve as the repository of all energy-related researches, studies and data.”
(This article, written by Myrna M. Velasco, was first published in the Manila Bulletin Website on August 6, 2021)