ON TARGET

Storm brewing at Pagasa

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The acronym of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration is Pagasa.

Pagasa is the Filipino word for hope.

But right now, Pagasa doesn’t hold out hope for the agency’s weather experts, if we go by the word of a source.

There is demoralization in the ranks at what was formerly known as the Weather Bureau, said the source, an insider at the agency.

The problem, according to the source, is Secretary Mario Montejo of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the agency’s mother department.

The source said Montejo was the reason why at least three administrators of Pagasa have left one after the other: Prisco Nilo, Graciano Yumol and, most recently, Nathaniel Servando.

Nilo, a doctor in meteorology, left after he was reassigned to a lesser post as a consequence of a wrong forecast of a typhoon that hit Metro Manila in 2011.

“But weather forecasting is not an exact science. Sometimes, meteorologists make mistakes in plotting a typhoon’s path,” said the source.

Yumol, who holds a Ph.D in science, and Servando, who had been with Pagasa for 28 years, reportedly left because of  a misunderstanding with Montejo.

Nilo, Yumol and Servando are expert meteorologists who loved their jobs but left with a heavy heart, said the source.

Subordinate meteorologists are planning to follow the former agency heads.

Another top meteorologist, Nathaniel Cruz, deputy administrator for operations, has gone on terminal leave.

Training meteorologists takes time—about one year of intensive theoretical and on-the-job study within the agency.

“Montejo oppresses (‘mapang-api’ is the word he used—RT) people. He acts on whimsy and doesn’t know how to handle subordinates,” said the source.

The DOST head reassigns officials and employees in Pagasa on the mere say-so of businessmen-friends who frequent his office, said the source.

Montejo’s friends are allegedly lobbying for a portion of Project Noah, a billion-peso project designed to upgrade the agency’s equipment.

Montejo, who is a brother-in-law of a Malacañang official, is an engineer and inventor.

* * *

Investwell Minerals Development Corp., which has been criticized in this space, writes to refute the charges I made in a previous column.

For the sake of fairness and objectivity, here are Investwell’s answers to the charges:

“1) The company involved is Investwell Resources Inc. (IRI). Investwell Minerals Development Corp. is a different company.

“2) What was approved by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was a deed of assignment of the Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) of another company, Trans-Asia.

“This is not yet a permit for the large-scale mining operations we intend to go into.

“3)  The accusation that our principal, Mr. Yii Ann Hii, was barred by (the late) Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo from operating in Bicol is a fabrication.

“4)  The accusation that Mr. Yii has been charged with “theft of minerals” refers to Marinduque, and not Bicol.

“It is a misrepresentation of his attempts to revive mining in Marinduque, and not Bicol. No mining was done. No ore was shipped out.”

This columnist would like to have the last word: I have documents showing that my accusations against Investwell are valid.

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