By Edd K. Usman
The establishment of the Philippine Space Agency (PSA) is now slowly taking shape after Pres. Rodrigo R. Duterte approved a proposal for a 10-year Space Development Program (SDP) with a funding of P24 billion.
Department of Science and Technology (DOST) secretary Fortunato dela Peña revealed this at the recent 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Philippine Textile Research Institute (DOST-PTRI) at the PICC in Pasay City.
In an interview with Newsbytes.PH, Dela Peña said Duterte approved his proposal for the 10-year SDP with a targeted budget of P24 billion. “But this could still change,” he said, referring the proposed amount.
“The Cabinet approved our proposal to carry out a 10-year Space Development Program. We showed them the amount that we need… something like over P24 billion over 10 years,” the DOST chief said.
Dela Pena said that he also proposed the issuance and signing of an executive order creating a transitory space agency.
“We recommended that an executive order be signed to create a National Space Development Office that will be the precursor of the Philippine Space Agency whose creation will depend on Congress,” he added. “They approved my recommendation and they are now looking into the draft of the order,” he said.
Relatedly, Dela Peña said the DOST’s second satellite project called Diwata-2 is targeted for launch in 2018 as the government is taking advantage of good opportunities for the launching that would give savings and good results.
It can be recalled the DOST launched the P1.2-billion Philippine Earth Observation Micro-satellite (PHL-Microsat) Project to develop and construct two 50-kg micro-satellites in collaboration with the University of the Philippines (UP) and Japan through Hokkaido University (HU) and Tohoko University (TU) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
Diwata-1, the country’s micro-satellite, has been in space since March 23, 2016.
DOST said some of the potential uses of Diwata-1′s images include improved detection and forecasts, disaster risk management, detecting agricultural growth patterns, monitoring of forest cover, mining, protection of cultural and historical sites, and the protection of the Philippines’ territorial borders.
Meanwhile, PTRI director Celia B. Elumba said the textile industry could contribute to the modernization of the country if given the right support.
“We firmly believe that just as it happened in the Western Hemisphere wherein the textile was the one that ignited industrialization, it can very well be the same case for us,” she said.
Elumba pointed to the country’s many natural, including agricultural by-products, wastes products. “So, we feel strongly that this is a key to what we look for; it starts with your roots, your farming community.”
Elumba batted for the establishment of micro-scale spinning facilities each about P20 million to P30 million across the country to spur the growth of the traditional textile industry using local resources.
On his end, Dela Peña assured strong support for PTRI’s textile development program.
“About textile, we have many traditional local industries. We just have to help them find new materials, blending new materials, or adopting new technologies that are found in other places. This will really expand the horizon of our local textile industry,” the DOST head said.