DOST pushes creation of a Philippine Space Agency
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is pushing for the creation of a national space agency that will consolidate all space-related research and development ventures of various government agencies and boost the country’s capability to become a space technology hub in Southeast Asia.
Science Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said space technology was a multisectoral concern in the country that now requires a centralized organization to address needs in national security and development, disaster mitigation, hazard management and climate studies.
He also hoped that the establishment of the Philippine Space Agency would be among the priority bills this year.
“When you deal with this space technology… it is not only DOST. There’s the agriculture angle, resources angle, settlements and human resource angles. So it will require some kind of a national agency,” Dela Peña said in a recent interview.
He also noted that establishing a central office for space technology-related undertakings was one way of catching up with neighboring countries that have long invested in the space industry.
“I think it’s high time that we have a space agency because, let us put it this way, we don’t want to be left out by other countries that are ahead,” he said.
Early last year, the country launched its very own eye in the sky, deploying its first locally built microsatellite Diwata-1 into orbit to provide essential data on weather systems, environmental monitoring and disaster risk management.
Science Undersecretary Rowena Guevara said the department was urging lawmakers to have a bill approved for the creation of a space agency as part of its vision to pursue a national space development program for the next 10 years.
“We assure you that space technology is very useful to our country,” Guevara said.
The DOST official was referring to three bills filed in the Senate and Congress—Senate Bill No. 1211 filed by Sen. Bam Aquino; House Bill No. 3637 by Representatives Seth Frederick Jalosjos and Erico Aumentado; and Albay Rep. Joey Salceda’s House Bill No. 4367.
Astrophysicist Rogel Mari Sese said among the benefits of having an institutionalized space agency was cutting duplication of resources and programs, which in effect will help government save billions in funds.
“Even though we don’t have a national space agency, we are doing a lot space-related activities. It is distributed over several agencies that sometimes they don’t talk to each other,” said Sese, the focal person for the DOST-Science Education Institute’s Philippine Space Education Program.
He also said a national space agency would help centralize all resources, especially for the need of satellite imageries. “We just need to purchase it once and it is open to all government agencies that want to access it,” he said.
Under the current setup, procurement of satellite images is done per government agency that needs them. Sese said the government was spending about P3 billion every year on satellite imageries.