A groundbreaking ceremony was held on January 27 to mark the site of a new office building for the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) along Commonwealth Avenue in the University of the Philippines. Diliman campus. The construction of the seven-story building that will serve as the permanent home for the PIDS signifies a new milestone in the partnership between the Philippine government’s primary socioeconomic policy think-tank and the national university.
Attending the groundbreaking were officials from the PIDS, including: NEDA Director-General, Chairman of the Board of PIDS, and Socioeconomic Secretary Ernesto del Mar Pernia; PIDS President Celia M. Reyes; former PIDS Presidents Josef Yap and Filologo L. Pante Jr.; the founding director of NEDA and UP Economics Professor Emeritus Gerardo Sicat; former Energy Secretary Raphael Perpetuo M. Lotilla and former UP President Alfredo E. Pascual, both PIDS Board Members; and, research fellows and staff members of the PIDS. Also present were representatives from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Department of Budget and Management, and the Commission on Audit.
UP officials who attended included: UP President Danilo L. Concepcion; Vice-President for Development Elvira A. Zamora; Vice-President for Academic Affairs Ma. Cynthia Rose B. Bautista; Vice-President for Public Affairs Elena E. Pernia; and Assistant Vice-President for Public Affairs Maria Angelica D. Abad, among others.
In her welcome remarks, Dr. Reyes thanked President Concepcion for welcoming the PIDS into UP. “We are looking forward to long years of harmonious relationship and more productive interaction with the University in terms of collaborative research,” she said.
Secretary Pernia highlighted the reputation of the PIDS as a government-related research institute that has been included among the the world’s top think-tanks. “By the end of next year and early 2022 at the latest, the PIDS will be moving here into their new home,” he announced.
Dr. Gerardo Sicat, considered the founding father of the PIDS, recalled the history of the institute, which he had originally envisioned as a research institute under the UP School of Economics (UPSE). After the idea was set aside by then UPSE Dean Jose Encarnacion, Sicat reconceptualized the PIDS as an institution for national economic development research, which had to harness economists and social scientists, contribute to the flowering of good debate on national economic issues, and be supported by the national government.
For his part, UP President Concepcion reaffirmed the partnership between UP and the PIDS, especially in terms of research. He added that the construction of the new PIDS building would benefit not only the PIDS, but UP as well. “We have so many plans in order to implement this partnership,” he said, noting that one of these plans was the creation of a degree program through a collaboration between PIDS and UP, similar to the Masters in Economic Regulations program being offered by some universities abroad. “Titignan natin how we can structure it, pero baka pwede tayong gumawa ng degree program using the expertise, talents and facilities of the PIDS.” (We will see how we can structure it, but perhaps we can create a degree program using the expertise, talents and facilities of the PIDS.)
He added that in light of the rapidly shrinking green and open spaces in the Diliman campus, the UP administration has instituted a policy that buildings must maximize vertical space. Noting that the soon-to-rise PIDS building is seven stories high, he added: “Titignan natin sa ating partnership na baka naman mapataas pa natin yung gusali. Sana ay magawan natin ng paraan na madagdagan pa ng at least two floors itong building nang sa ganon ay magamit naman ng UP.” (We will look into our partnership and see if we can make the building higher and add at least two more floors to the building for UP to use.)
Construction of the PIDS new building in UP Diliman will be funded from the General Appropriations Act for FY 2020, and will be implemented by the DPWH.