Senator Win Gatchalian pushes for the creation of a world-class and independent energy research and policy institute as soon as possible to help address research and policy gaps in the local energy sector and bring about reforms that will directly benefit Filipinos.
Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, has defended the need for an independent energy think-tank during the hearing of Senate Bill No. (SBN) 172 or An Act Creating the Philippine Energy Research and Policy Institute (PERPI).
“The fundamental logic why we are pushing this bill is really to come up with an independent research institute that will be, I describe it as a sparring partner for government so that it can complement or at least provide check and balance in policies and the end goal, someday, becoming energy independent for our constituents,” Gatchalian said.
SBN 172 mandates the establishment of the PERPI at the University of the Philippines and will be composed of scholars and energy sector professionals. It will be tasked to conduct multidisciplinary energy research, incubate and develop cutting edge technologies, and serve as the sparring partner for the government during the energy policy-making process.
The UP President will be given the authority to appoint the Executive Director based on the recommendation of the Advisory Council. The bill appropriates P200 million for the initial funding of the think tank.
Gatchalian noted that the country can copy the US and Singapore experiences where majority of their energy research institutes are under reputable universities such as Stanford University, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, and the National University of Singapore.
Sought for her opinion, UP Vice President for Academic Affairs Maria Cynthia Bautista told the committee that the state university has a pool of experts that can provide their expertise in providing and crafting independent research policies. “UP is a public service institution. Its mandate is not just a research or graduate university – it’s also a public service university. As a National University, we have to serve our country. That is the kind of service we can offer,” she said.
The lawmaker, who is the bill’s main author and sponsor, stresses that energy is not only for political conversations but it is also a basic necessity for everyone, adding that “kung wala ho tayong enerhiya, our country will never grow.”