The Secretaries and head of the participating agencies delivering their messages in the National Biotechnology Week (NBW) celebration 2021 via Zoom led by (clockwise) DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año, DOST Secretary Fortunato T. dela Peña, DA Secretary William D. Dar and DENR-ERDB Director Henry A. Adornado.

From DENR’s hosting of the National Biotechnology Week in 2020, this year 2021, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) led government agencies in the weeklong celebration of the 17th National Biotechnology Week. The annual event was held from Nov. 22-26, 2021 via online platforms.

Other participating agencies for this year’s NBW celebration are the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). This year’s theme is “Kapit- Bisig na Pagtutulungan, Bioteknolohiya Ating Paghusayan” in relation to the national government’s effort in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The virtual opening program was held on November 22, 2021 via Zoom and Facebook live. In his welcome message, DILG Undersecretary for Local Government Marlo L. Iringan emphasized the importance of biotechnology, especially during this pandemic. He mentioned the different contributions of biotechnology including the “technologies that help ensure food security, technologies in developing treatments to combat the adverse effects of Covid-19, and most importantly biotechnology that has given rise to the development of safe vaccines.”

DILG Undersecretary for Local Government Marlo L. Iringan delivering the welcome message.

DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año thanked all the government departments for working with the DILG in spearheading the annual celebration of the National Biotechnology Week 2021.“Sa panahong ito kailangan natin ng kaagapay sa pagsalba sa mga kababayan natin mula sa kagutuman, pagkakasakit, pagbagsak ng ekonomiya at pagkasira ng kalikasan at bioteknolohiya ang naging sandigan ng ating pananaliksik at paglikha ng mga produkto, metodolohiya at iba pang pamamaraan upang makamtan ang produktong pang agrikultura at medisina. Bioteknolohiya rin ang naging malaking susi upang makabuo ng bakuna na pangunahing solusyon sa ating kinakaharap na krisis pangkalusugan dulot ng Covid-19, he added. 

DA Secretary William Dar said, “I once again call on those involved in our efforts to share in the work to ensure that the public has wide access to accurate information about the science. I make this appeal on behalf of the 95 children who die of malnutrition every day in the Philippines and for countless other children whom golden rice might just be a lifesaver.

DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña also expressed his message of support for the NBW celebration. He said, “With science, technology, and innovation, I am confident to say that we have made significant headways as the country is now opening up to more economic activities and mobility for our people. Slowly we are turning the tides to our advantage as many cities and provinces are now reporting 0 cases while some are attaining herd immunity. Thanks to the various vaccines that are now available to us”, he added. Furthermore, he announced that the Virology and Vaccine Institute of the Philippines bill already passed the 3rd reading of the House of Representatives.

Secretary dela Pena also updated the public on the DOST’s ongoing research on Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) and Lagundi as an adjunct treatment for mild Covid-19 cases which have shown encouraging results. He also announced that the local home-test kit for Covid-19 called “GenAmplify CoTPCRid-19 RT-PCR detection kit” developed by the team headed by the Dr. Raul Destura of UP Manila proved that they are heading in the right direction about their R & D activities.

Finally, ERDB Director Henry A. Adornado also gave his message on behalf of DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu. He congratulated the DILG for hosting the 17th NBW celebration. He said, “The efforts of the various agencies behind the annual celebration is a testament of the commitment of the members to advance biotechnology, sustain food security, promote equitable access to health services and achieve a sustainable environment in the country”. As a final message, he said, “Through these initiatives, we hope to promote greater public awareness, education, and understanding on how biotechnology can be used in addressing the country’s ecological problems.”

For the whole week of celebration, NBW 2021 event featured various activities by the Interagency Committees and their partner-organizations. Among the many activities were the week-long launch of DA’s golden rice on the NBW Facebook page, Enviotech of DENR-ERDB, Digital Art Contest of the DA Biotech, DOH-FDA’s Webinar on Healthcare Forum on Biotech Vaccines, DA’s Agri-Aqua Biotech Applications, Webinar on Biotechnology by the DOST Philippine Science High School System and links to biotech sites. Despite the ongoing pandemic, these virtual wactivities were actively participated by different stakeholders of the said agencies.

The Closing Program was held virtually via Zoom and Facebook Live on November 26, 2021 at 9 AM.

During the Closing Program, winners of the Digital Art Competition hosted by the DA-Biotech Office were announced. The 1st place went to John Niño Ugdang titled, “Gintong Butil ng Pag-Asa Golden Rice para sa Masa at Magsasaka”. The 2nd prize winner was Kenneth Banagan titled, “Gintong Bigas para sa Pag-Unlad ng Magsasaka”. Lastly, the 3rd place was the artwork titled, “A Golden Lining” by Joshua Ison.

In his closing message, DILG USEC for Local Government Mario L. Iringan thanked all the participating agencies for providing insightful activities and webinars throughout the weeklong celebration. He encouraged everyone to support biotechnology by saying, “With the momentum gained throughout the celebration of the NBW, let us continue towards the goal of promoting biotechnology and bring the scientific advancement it carries to the lives of every Filipino.”

The final part of the program was the turnover of responsibility for hosting next year’s 18th NBW celebration to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Ms. Ms. May Rose Vegas of the Board of Investments (BOI) represented DTI in accepting the Chairpersonship of next year’s celebration. Marla V. Cambay, TTD