Author Topic: PHL to expand space science capability for nat'l defense, disaster preparedness  (Read 806 times)

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PHL to expand space science capability for nat'l defense, disaster preparedness
Published November 17, 2016 8:08pm
By TJ DIMACALI, GMA News

The Philippine government is committed to expanding the country's capability to defend and fend for itself in the event of natural disasters and other emergencies by investing heavily in space science and technology over the next decade.

Space science for disaster response

Speaking at the 23rd Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum held at Sofitel, Manila, on Thursday, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato de la Peña underscored the Philippines' need for better hazard monitoring and management—all but a necessity, given the country's extreme vulnerability to disasters.

According to the 2016 World Risk Index, the Philippines is third out of 171 countries with the highest risk of being hit by earthquakes, floods, and storms.

Multibillion-peso investment

De la Peña highlighted the benefit of having space technology for monitoring local agriculture and environmental conditions, even as he bemoaned the Philippines' dependence on foreign satellites for data and communications.

"The key development areas where we would really like to have an impact is national security, hazard management and climate studies, space industry capacity building, and space education," De la Peña said.

To address these concerns, he said that the government is investing P1 billion in 2017 and 2018 toward capacity building and infrastructure develoment. Thereafter, the country plans to allocate P2 billion per year. This is on top of the P840 million already invested so far in the training of Filipino scientists in Japan.

"The initial strategy is to send our scholars abroad... Eventually, we will be able to train our own (experts)," De la Peña explained.

Growing the Philippines' space tech capability

It will be recalled that the Philippines launched Diwata-1 earlier this year, the country's nascent bid for independence in terms of space technology. In October, lawmakers also filed separate bills calling for the establishment of a Philippine Space Agency.

Also at the forum, DOST Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) Executive Director Dr. CP David said that work is already underway on the Diwata-2 satellite, which is expected to launch in 2018 and function alongside Diwata-1.

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