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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Salceda: Philippines near to creating own space agency

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The Philippines may soon have its own space agency, akin to the United States National Aeronautics Space Administration, following last week’s unanimous approval of House Bill 8541 (HB 8541) or the “Philippine Space Development Act.”

Crafted in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology and filed by Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, 297 lawmakers voted for the measure that seeks to establish a clear Philippine Space Development and Utilization policy and create the Philippine Space Agency.

PhilSA will be the primary agency that will spearhead the program of space science and technology access and applications, space research including remote sensing and the gathering of crucial data related to natural disasters and respond to the country’s growing need for a secure and independent access to space.

Salceda said the program would help the Philippines safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity and that developing science and technology through a space program could also boost patriotism and nationalism. PhilSA will be the central government agency in charge of issues and activities related to space science, engineering, and similar fields. It will be attached to DOST.

As conceptualized, PhilSA will be the primary policy, planning, coordinating, implementing and administrative body of the executive branch of government that will plan, develop, and promote a national space program in line with the Philippine Space Policy

The Philippine Space Policy, on the other hand, will prioritize programs on national security and development, hazard management and climate studies, space research and development, space industry and capacity building, space education and awareness, and international cooperation.

HB 8541got strong backing from Bohol Rep. Erico Aristotle C. Aumentado, House science and technology committee chair; Rep JJ Romualdo, chairman of Gov’t Reorganization; Zamboanga Rep. Seth Frederick Jalosjos, appropriations committee vice chair, and many others.

A Senate version of the bill has already passed committee level deliberations. It is expected to be approved on third and final reading soon. The two versions will next go to the bicameral conference committee for consolidation before its Presidential approval.

Salceda said space technology has become ubiquitous so that many vital activities would not operate without space systems, such as satellites, to provide capabilities in communications, navigation, defense and security, environmental monitoring and disaster assessment.

“This makes space infrastructure and capabilities as indispensable assets of society and an essential requirement for any modern country,” he added.

As a developing country and an emerging economic powerhouse in the Asia-Pacific region, Salceda said it is crucial for the Philippines to embark on an efficient space science and technology applications and utilization to address various development and security issues and keep up with the rest of the world that is gradually becoming more space capable. 

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