House votes 207-0 to pass bill on PH space dev’t, creation of space agency

The House of Representatives has unanimously approved on third and final reading — with 207 all affirmative votes and without abstention — a proposal to establish the Philippine Space Development and Utilization Policy and create the Philippine Space Agency.

The Diwata-1, the first micro-satellite of the Philippines, which was deployed into space in 2016

The bill, principally authored by Bohol representative Erico Aumentado, provides for the establishment of the Philippine Space Development and Utilization Policy (PSDUP) that shall serve as the country’s primary strategic roadmap for space development and shall embody the country’s central goal of becoming a space-capable and space-faring nation within the next decade.

The PSDUP shall focus on the areas of Space Science and Technology Application (SSTA) to address national issues, promote the efficient use of space assets and resources, establish capacity-building measures for human resource development, and enhance international cooperation.

It shall focus on the following areas to ensure the country’s sustained progress:

  1. National security and development;
  2. Hazard management and climate studies;
  3. Space research and development;
  4. Space industry capacity building;
  5. Space education and awareness; and
  6. International cooperation.

Likewise, the bill provides for the creation of the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) as the central government agency to address all national issues and activities related to SSTA.

The PhilSA shall be attached to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to coordinate policies and programs and ensure alignment in national policies and priorities.

Among the functions and powers of the PhilSA are:

  1. Create, develop and implement national and international space policies;
  2. Implement the PSDUP;
  3. Advise the President of the Philippines and government agencies about space-related issues;
  4. Design, develop and construct the necessary space systems and facilities, as well as launch, track, and operate the satellites on behalf of the Philippine government; and
  5. Collaborate with space-related agencies of other countries for the peaceful use and development of space technology.

The PhilSA shall be composed of the Office of the Director General, the Offices of three Deputy Directors General, and various divisions and offices to be created as deemed necessary.

The Director General shall head the PhilSA, and shall have the rank and compensation of an Undersecretary. He shall be appointed by the President of the Philippines upon the recommendation of the DOST secretary.

To qualify as PhilSA Director General, one must be:

  1. A citizen and resident of the Philippines;
  2. Of good moral character and proven integrity;
  3. A holder of advanced degree in Space Science, Physics, Astronomy, Engineering or related fields of study; and
  4. Has five years of competent experience and expertise in any of the following fields: astrophysics; space science; aerospace engineering; space systems engineering; remote sensing space industry; or human capital development in the SSTA sector.

The amount necessary to cover the initial implementation of the proposed law shall be charged against the current year’s appropriations of the Philippine Aerospace Development Corporation, the DOST-Office of the Secretary (DOST-OSEC) Grants-in-Aid, and the Space Program of the Science Education Institute of the DOST.

In addition, the PhilSA may receive contributions, grants, bequeaths, gifts, and donations whether from local or foreign sources, but subject to the approval of the President of the Philippines, upon the recommendation of the Secretaries of the DOST and the Department of Foreign Affairs. — Rowena B. Bundang

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