The proposed Philippines’ own space agency has taken off faster than expected. This developed after the Senate unanimously approved early this week the “Philippine Spaces Act,” its version of the “Philippine Space Development Act” passed by the House of Representatives in December last year.
Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, principal author of House Bill 8541, said the proposal, crafted in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology, is a “national imperative” because it would help the country safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“Developing science and technology through a space program would also help boost patriotism and nationalism,” he added.
The proposal seeks to establish a clear Philippine Space Development and Utilization Policy and create the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA), the country’s version of United States National Aeronautics Space Agency.
The Senate voted 18-0 last Monday for the PhilSA creation. When created, PhilSA will absorb the functions of the Philippines Space Science Education Program of the DOST’s Science Education Institute.
PhilSA, Salceda explained, will be the central government agency in charge of issues and activities related to space science, engineering, and related fields and will be attached to the DOST.
It will spearhead the program of space science and technology access and applications, space research including remote sensing and 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 PhilSA has been conceptualized to serve as the primary policy, planning, coordinating, implementing and administrative body of the executive branch of government in developing and promoting a national space program.
This is in line with the Philippine Space Policy that 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.
Salceda said space technology has now become ubiquitous so that many vital activities would not operate without space systems, like 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 other countries that are
gradually becoming more space capable.
As conceived, PhilSA will be allocated 30 hectares of land within the Clark Special Economic Zone in
Pampanga and Tarlac for its offices and research facilities. It may also establish additional offices,
research facilities and launch sites as necessary.
It will receive ₱2 billion a year in the first five years to be sourced from the income of the Philippine
Amusement and Gaming Corporation and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority, aside from
the P1-billion operating outlay it will in its initial year.
The Senate’s and House versions will next go to the bicameral conference committee for consolidation
before submission to Malacanang for President Duterte’s signature.
In the House, Salceda’s proposal got strong backing from Bohol Rep. Erico Aristotle C. Aumentado,
House science and technology committee chair; Government Reorganization committee chair Rep JJ
Romualdo; Zamboanga Rep. Seth Frederick Jalosjos, appropriations committee vice chair, and many