The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has been pushing for the passage of the bill on the Modernized National Measurement System Act, which seeks to put the country on par with its ASEAN neighbors and upgrade the government’s metrology services that are more responsive to the industry.
According to Ahdrian Camilo C. Gernale, a Science Research Specialist at the National Metrology Laboratory (NML) at the DOST - Technology and Development Institute (DOST-ITDI), metrology affects the country’s measurement capabilities, which helps the government provide domestic and international confidence in products and services, reduces technical challenges to trade exports, and ensures the quality of imports.
Gernale mentioned during the recent World Metrology Day Celebration with a theme of “Metrology in the Digital Era” that an estimated 10B in government revenue was lost due to poor market surveillance and enforcement of penalties to regulate measuring instruments. An estimated 240M losses were due to inaccurate weighing instruments.
Currently, the country’s National Metrology operates as a division or Laboratory under the DOST-ITDI and acts as the National Metrology Institute of the country.
The mandates and functions of NML are limited by what’s outlined in the outdated Republic Act 9236 or the Metrology Act of 2003, which are as follows: that NML will carry out the technical calibration in laboratory functions to implement the provisions of the Act efficiently.
"There’s a downside to this, though. NML performs these four functions: Calibration and Testing; Proficiency Testing; Consultancy; and Training, but it is not structurally designed, and it does not have the mandate and full capability to carry out measurement functions necessary to respond to the needs of industry 4.0," Gernale said.
Gernale explained that this affects the country’s calibration and measurement capabilities which equates to higher cost of exporting products, eventually becoming less competitive in the international market.
He stated that numerous laws in the Philippines need measurement to enforce penalties or sanctions. A review of rules and regulations shows that measurements affect the state and its citizens, such as the Dangerous Drug Act, Pollution Control, Anti-over speeding, Consumer Act, and Timbangan ng Bayan.
He added that all of the above-cited policies, which may need some refinements in measurement units to prevent the use of inaccurate, incompatible units, are outside the current scope of the NML, currently a division-level laboratory.
He cited that in comparison with other member states of the ASEAN, the Philippines lack government support in funding. Its ASEAN counterparts, however, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, have long established their respective Metrology Institute.