MANILA – President Rodrigo R. Duterte conferred the Order of National Scientist on Academician Emil Q. Javier on January 7, 2019, Tuesday at the Malacañang Palace.

The Order of National Scientist is the highest honor that the Philippine Government can bestow on a Filipino scientist for his or her outstanding contributions to fields of science and technology. The conferment is by virtue of Malacañang Proclamation No. 781 signed by President Duterte last August 2, 2019.

Academician Javier was recognized for his exhaustive studies and analytical writings about agricultural issues that demonstrate clear and intelligent thinking that could lead to more efficient and systematic solution of problems of poverty alleviation in the countryside. He was also known for his significant contributions to plant breeding research in rice, maize, sorghum, coconut, abaca, and tropical grasses and legumes and his pioneering and award-winning research and extension work in tropical pastures agronomy and utilization in integrated crop-livestock farming systems.

His abiding faith in the superiority of modern technology and logical approaches coupled with compassion to attain inclusive growth and a democratic social order has led to sound agricultural policies and programs, massive utilization of climate resilient and environment-friendly agricultural innovations, and improved governance and management systems to help improve the livelihood of Filipino farmers and fisher folk.

Academician Javier was also cited for his distinctive institution building and leadership when he founded the Institute of Plant Breeding (IPB) at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) in 1975. The UPLB-IPB popularized high-yielding crops and disease-resident varieties in the country and in Asia, which included the creation of a system of national research institutes in food and agriculture that complements the traditional academic department system. He also co-founded the Crop Science Society of the Philippines. As Minister of Science (1981-1986), he initiated: (a) the reorganization of the National Science Development Board into a regular government agency, the National Science and Technology Authority (NSTA) through EO 784, and (b) the establishment of the Scientific Career System; four-member S and T sectoral council system composed of two new councils, one for health research and development and the other for industry and energy R and D; and regional offices and operations and science communities. Furthermore, he led the establishment of the UP Open University, UP Mindanao, the National Institutes of Biotechnology, and the Ugnayan ng Pahinungod during his term as UP President (1993-1999). He became President of the National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL) from 2005 to 2012 and was the only Filipino and scientist from a developing country to serve as chair of the Technical Advisory Committee on the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

Below was Academician Javier’s acceptance speech during the conferment ceremony:

“Mr. President, Secretary de la Pena, Secretary Briones, Colleagues and Family.

Thank you, Mr. President, for your precious time and for the signal honor you have bestowed upon my person.

I accept the award, Mr. President, with great joy but mixed with pain and embarrassment. As we all know, the rank and title of National Scientist is the highest recognition a lifelong academic like me can aspire for.

The joy is compounded by the fact that the recognition came by way of endorsement of my peers in the science community whose informed judgement I value and respect. The rank and title is conferred no less than by the President of the Republic in the hallowed halls of Malacanang.

One cannot ask for more.

But frankly, Mr. President the joy is diminished by the painful reality that our farmers and fisherfolk remain impoverished and food insecure.

Clearly, collectively, including myself, we have not done enough. For far too long, we have not invested enough and allowed agriculture to stagnate. There is no virtue in pointing fingers now because there is so much blame to spread around.

And yet, Mr. President, we have the technology and expertise to move agriculture forward. We can do much better if only we can put our act together.

Your appointment of a new, very knowledgeable Secretary of Agriculture and your decisive support for the rice tariffication act bring us fresh hope that indeed change is coming. And that agriculture will finally receive the attention it deserves.

Just like the closure and rehabilitation of Boracay, the no-nonsense clearing of obstructions in streets and highway, and hopefully soon, the emancipation of the Coconut Levy Funds for the benefit of our poor coconut farmers, and the creation of a new Department of Fisheries and Marine Resources, these are the kinds of tough political decisions that need to be done and we in the science community are very happy and encouraged that you are making them.

I therefore receive the award with a hopeful note that there is light at the end of the tunnel for the rural sector.

You have our full support, Mr. President.”

National Scientist Emil Q. Javier is the 42nd National Scientist of the Philippines and one of the only 11 distinguished awardees living today.