(L-R) Undersecretary for Regional Operations Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Brenda Nazareth-Manzano, Palawan Vice Governor Victorino Dennis Socrates, and Dr. Ma. Josefina Abilay during the inauguration ceremony for the DOST MIMAROPA Regional Standards & Testing Laboratory (RSTL) in Puerto Princesa City.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in MIMAROPA launched recently the Regional Standards and Testing Laboratories (RSTL) in Palawan as part of its “One Lab” program to help micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) ensure the quality of their products.

DOST undersecretary for regional operations Brenda Nazareth-Manzano said from a provincial lab, it is now regional to cater to MSMEs and even big companies that want to submit product samples to be able to comply with their testing requirements.

“We do believe industries here in the region, specifically here in Palawan, that would require all of these testing services. We know that if you produce a product, you have to ensure that your product meets the product standard. This facility will really help all the MSMEs or even big companies if there are around to really ensure that their products meet the quality standard,” Manzano said.

The DOST laboratory started in 2013 as a micro-testing facility and had already conducted 1,666 testings before it was inaugurated to become an RSTL. Along the way, it was also expanded into a chemical to a metrology laboratory.

This year, the regional DOST said the RSTL will be expanded to a temperature and pressure testing lab.

According to DOST MIMAROPA senior science research specialist Pacifico Sariego III, there is a noticeable increase in the trend of clients accommodated by the facility in Palawan in 2017 and 2018 which is about 30%.

They are also hoping that this would continue to increase in 2019.

“Increasing naman ang trend ng mga client, dalawa kasi yan tinitingnan natin — number of clients and number of tests  kasi ang client pwede sya magpa-test ng marami. So far, increasing naman ang trend ng mga nagpapa-test, dumadami rin ‘yong mga nagpapadala ng samples at nakikita namin na sa 2019 ay mas lalo siyang dadami,“ Sariego said.

Sariego said the RSTL will also start to accept samples from food manufacturers who want to be accredited by the Food and Drug Association (FDA).

Since the laboratory in Palawan had started its operation in 2013, Manzano said it was only earning P50,000.

But through its continuous operation, Sariego said the earning has now reached to P500,000 and expecting to have an additional 200,000 increase this 2019.

Sariego added they are looking forward to being accredited by the Department of Health (DOH) which will be assessing the facility before the month of June for its water testing.

Aside from the DOH accreditation, DOST MIMAROPA also has ongoing compliance for their accreditation from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“Tumatanggap naman kami ng samples ngayon pero kung ang requirement ng client ay kailangan accredited, nililinaw naman natin sa kanila na hindi pa tayo accredited pa sa ngayon at dini-discourage namin sila magpatest kung isa-submit nila sa DOH na ang requirement ay certification,” he stressed.

Dr. Ma. Josefina Abilay, DOST MIMAROPA regional director, said they decided to put the RSTL in the province because it is isolated. The other provinces of the region do not have to go to Palawan for their samples to be tested at the RSTL since they can go to the nearest provincial office of the DOST.

“Kung ngayon, ikaw ay taga province ng MIMAROPA at may kailangan kang ipa-test, hindi mo na kailangan pumunta rito, punta ka lang sa pinakamalapit na provincial office ng DOST o hanapin sa kung saan laboratory sa One Lab na ito ang test na kailangan mo, ang samples mo ay ipapadala natin sa lab na ‘yon,” Abilay said.

At the One Lab, the DOST said they have a network of government and private laboratories in the Philippines and abroad to receive samples that they are capable of testing.

In Palawan, there is only one private laboratory offering testing services.