Pagasa loses chief to greener pasture

Going down brain drain

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Pagasa administrator Nathaniel Servando. Source: Pagasa website

MANILA, Philippines—Overseas work has lured another ranking official of the state-run weather bureau.

Nathaniel Servando, chief of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), has quit his job to take on a teaching post in the Middle East, the agency’s officer in charge (OIC), Vicente Malano, announced on Wednesday.

“Yes, (I’m confirming his resignation). He took a leave on March 22. Last night (Tuesday) he texted me confirming his optional retirement,” the OIC told a news briefing at the Pagasa Science Garden.

Malano said he received Servando’s text message at 7:40 p.m., which read: “This is to inform you that I have decided to optionally retire and leave Pagasa. I’ve submitted my letter to (Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo). Thanks for your support. Certainly I’ll miss your company.”

The 48-year-old Servando took a two-month leave of absence on health reasons, complaining of hypertension and diabetes.

But when his leave lapsed in May, he sought an extension until August, which Montejo allowed.

By then, Pagasa officials had learned that Servando had taken a teaching post at a university in Qatar, Malano said.

He did not give other details, including which university Servando had joined.

“His first reason was health—he said he had high blood pressure and diabetes. Now it’s because of an opportunity. His eldest child is now in college,” Malano said.

Servando and his wife have three children.

As Pagasa administrator, Servando received a gross monthly pay of P68,428 plus a cost-of-living allowance of P2,000, said Venus Valdemoro, chief of Pagasa’s information office.

She said word went around the agency that Servando had been offered a monthly salary of P600,000 in the Qatar school. However, this was not confirmed.

Malano said he understood Servando’s decision, considering that meteorologists abroad could earn pay “three times, or five times, or eight times” more than Pagasa could offer.

“If you got an offer for that kind of pay, perhaps you would bite, too. Even our doctors are taking nursing courses to go abroad. They sacrifice being doctors to become nurses,” Malano said.

Servando served Pagasa for 23 years.

He first joined the agency as a weather specialist in January 1990, then became a senior weather specialist in October 2000.

He served as acting chief of Pagasa’s Weather Forecasting Section in August 2002.

Servando was appointed deputy administrator for research and development in February 2004, and formally assumed leadership of the agency in 2012.

He joins other Pagasa officials lured by higher-paying opportunities abroad or elsewhere. In July 2010, former weather division chief Nathaniel Cruz left the bureau for a job in Australia. He returned to the Philippines and became resident meteorologist for GMA 7 network.

Science Undersecretary Graciano Yumul, who was the concurrent head of Pagasa, also left government in March last year to join a private firm.

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