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Geologists as partners for common good and social justice
By Marcelle P. Villegas
In late 2017, the Geological Society of the Philippines organised the GEOCON 2017 with the theme “Geologists: Partners for Common Good and Social Justice”.
It was a highly successful event with the attendance of over 800 geoscientists and other technical people in the industry.
2017 is the 71st year of the GEOCON.
It started as a scientific organization on 2nd of September 1945 with 54 Charter Members who are mostly American geologists from the US Army Corps of Engineers. These members were serving during World War II.
Through the years, many challenges are faced by geologists.
“Unfortunately, in many sectors of our society, access to scientific information is minimal or even non-existent. Scientific inquiry has been replaced by sleek media campaigns pandering to emotions and fear. Science has been set aside to give way to sensationalism and alternative facts,” according to Philippine Resources columnist, Atty. Fernando Penarroyo, 2017 President of Geological Society of the Philippines.
Furthermore, he said, “By gaining a greater understanding of the geologic processes and the risks and potential rewards involved with resources development, the people in government can make educated decisions in good governance. At the same time the public can also truly understand the pressing issues based on the knowledge we in the geology profession can impart.”
GEOCON 2017 featured around 27 keynote speakers who presented their papers and reports about various geological studies and exploration, issues about the environment, government policies, and national challenges in the management of the country’s natural resources.
“It is now a reality that geology is clearly related to government and economic policy, in light of the recent events in the resources industry. Our profession depends to a large extent on scientific facts and evidence based on extensive data gathering, process and interpretation,” a quote from Atty. Penarroyo’s message to the members and attendees of the conference.
Furthermore, in relation to geological sciences, the event presented more compelling topics like “New Dawn for Nuclear Science in the Philippines” by Dr. Carlo A. Arcilla, Director of Philippine Nuclear Research Institute; “Benham Rise and Its Resource Potential” by Jay L. Batongbacal, College of Law, University of the Philippines; “The Big One” by Renato U. Solidum, Jr. of Dept. of Science and Technology, Philippine Institute of of Volcanology and Seismology; and finally a special Keynote Presentation by Justice Antonio Carpio about “West Philippine Sea”.
“This year’s theme ‘Geologists: Partners for Common Good and Social Justice’ aptly describes the important role of geoscientists in today’s society. Notwithstanding the individual field of specialization, geologists play a pro-active role in the society by providing guidance to policy makers and the public, in general, in mineral an oil exploration, geo-hazard identification and mitigation, environmental management, infrastructure planning, land use planning, water resources management and even defining the socio-political perspective with our basic knowledge and understanding of the earth’s materials and processes as our tool,” said Redempta P. Baluda, Chairperson, GEOCON 2017 Organizing Committee.
The event also discussed Geological Society Matters like the President’s Report by Atty. Penarroyo, the Treasurer’s Report by Alberto P. Morillo (2017 GSP Treasurer), GEOCON 2017 Report by Redempta P. Baluda (GEOCON 2017 Organizing Chair), and the COMELEC Announcement of Election Results by Mia Urbano Africa (GSP Comelec Chairperson).
During the President’s Report, Atty. Penarroyo mentioned the Performance Highlights of the Geological Society of the Philippines such as: Amendment of By-laws, Legislative Lobbying, Senate Bill No. 553, Confirmation Hearing of DENR Secretary-designate Gina Lopez, Proposed Seabed Mining Act, Reporting Codes and Competent Persons, Continuing Professional Development, Accreditation as AIPO under the Geology Profession Act (GEOSEA 2020, Housekeeping), Journal of the Geologic Society of the Philippines and Website.