The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) said the signing into law of a bill creating the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) is an auspicious development that will immensely benefit the country.
This is despite the fact that the PhilSA will be placed under the administrative supervision of the Office of the President (OP) and not as an attached unit of the DOST as originally intended.
“We knew that there were numerous stakeholders involved in creating the PhilSA, so we’re perfectly okay with the idea of putting it under the OP,” said DOST secretary Fortunato dela Pena during a hastily called press briefing to discuss the passage of the law at UP Diliman on Wednesday, Aug. 14.
The House version of the bill provided that the PhilSA be an attached agency of the DOST. However, the Senate version put it under the OP. A bicameral committee eventually adopted the Senate version.
Dela Pena said that the provisions of the bill were essentially the same in the House and Senate versions, except for that issue on where the agency should be placed.
“We thought that since we had very little time to push for the passage of the bill, we deemed it would be better to support the version that is amenable to our lawmakers just so it can be signed into law,” the DOST chief recalled.
Pres. Rodrigo Duterte signed the Philippine Space Act or Republic Act 11363 on August 8 but a copy of which was released only to reporters on August 13, Tuesday.
The law fulfils the country’s “urgent need to create a coherent and unified strategy for space development and utilization to keep up with other nations in terms of space science and technology.”
The measure is also intended “to ensure that the Philippines has official representation in the international space community for establishing cooperation agreements and linkages on space development.”
According to dela Pena, a fund amounting to P1 billion has been allocated for the formal operations of the PhilSA. The law’s IRR (implementing rules and regulations) is expected to be drafted within 60 days.
“In case the PhilSA would make money in the course of its operations, 75 percent of the revenues shall be retained to fund its own research and development, while the 25 percent will be remitted to the National Treasury,” Dela Pena said.
The PhilSA will be headed by a director-general who will have a Cabinet-rank position and appointed by the president.
The law also establishes the Philippine Space Development and Utilization Policy or the Philippine Space Policy which will serve as the country’s primary strategic roadmap for space development.
It will also focus on six key development areas namely: National Security and Development; Hazard Management and Climate Studies; Space Research and Development; Space Industry Capacity Building; Space Education and Awareness; and International Cooperation.
Moreover, it also creates the Philippine Space Council (PSC) which will be the principal advisory body for the coordination and integration of policies, programs, and resources affecting science and technology applications. The PSC will be chaired by the president. – with Azer Parrocha (PNA)