Filipino on the moon? Will it be possible? Yes, it is possible and we are not day dreaming.

“Hindi na tayo by-stander when it comes to technology. Hindi na tayo magbabasa na lang o nanonood at meron na tayong mga puwedeng magawa,” this is one of the many awakening message of DOST Secretary Fortunato T. De la Peña in a press briefing in Wednesday. Few days after the President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed  Republic Act (RA) 11363 or otherwise known as Philippine Space Act signed on August 8, 2019 which mandates the establishment of the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA).

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Under the law, the Philippine Space policy will focus on Key Development Areas for Space Science Technology Application (SSTA) for (1) National Security and Development (2) Hazard Management nd Climate Studies (3) Space Research and Development (4) Space Industry Capacity Building (5) Space Education and Awareness at (6) International Cooperation.

Among PhilSA’s powers and functions are (1) Policy, Planning, and Coordination (2) Improved Public Access and Resource-Sharing (3) Research and Development (4) Education and Capacity Building (5)Industry Development, and (6) International Cooperation.

A Philippine Space Council (PSC) shall be created as the principal advisory body for the coordination and integration of policies, programs and resources affecting space and Science & Technology application. PSC shall be composed of the President of the Philippines as Chairperson, DOST and National Defense Secretaries are the Vice Chairperson. Members are the Committee on Science and Technology Chairs of Senate and House, Director General of National Economic and Development Authority, Department Secretaries of Finance, Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources, Trade and Industry, and Information and Communications Technology.

According to de la Peña, various space-related activities, work in partnership with numerous state colleges and universities, other government agencies, research institutions, and even the private sector.

DOST Secretary De la Peña said, PhilSA appropriated by the law of P1 billion as initial operating fund, taken from the current fiscal year’s appropriation of the Office of the President. He also said the law mandates the creation of the Philippine Space Development Fund to be used exclusively for the PhilSA.

The said fund shall be administered by the Director General to be appointed by the Office of the President. A P10 billion to be taken from the share of the National Government in the gross income of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) and Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) for five years after the effectivity of the law. An amount of P2 billion per year shall be released to PhilSA and the whole amount including any interest income shall be used exclusively for capital outlay. Income from specialized products, services, and royalties produced by the PhilSA will be an added bonus. 75 percent of all or any income generate by the PhilSA will be retained by the agency.

“I will write a letter to the Office of the President, probably the Executive Secretary, calling for the creation of the technical working committee that will craft the IRR,” Science Secretary Fortunato de la Peña told reporters in UP Institute Electrical Electronics Engineering Building during the press briefing.

The Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) should be in place within 60 days after 15 days publication to the Official Gazette and two (2) newspapers of general circulation in the Philippines. But since RA 11363 tasks PhilSA, which is not yet established, to take the lead in crafting the IRR, de la Peña said he deemed it proper to write Malacañang to initiate the creation of the technical working committee.

“Of course, this is for national security concerns. For example monitoring of vessels out there on the sea. Puwede mo na gawin yun on the ground. It is much more efficient and much more accurate if you can really deploy your space base monitoring systems,: Dr. Enrico C. Paringit, Executive Director, PCIEERD-DOST said.

Philippine Space Act is not limited to space development but its main purpose is to safeguard Philippine sovereignty, territorial integrity and our country’s interest and right to self discrimination as mandated by Article II, Section 7 of the 1987 Constitution.# (Cathy Cruz)


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