DOST answers criticisms of Diwata-1 engineer posted in Facebook

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Engineer Paolo Espiritu posing with the Diwata-1 micro-satellite in Japan. Credit from Paolo Espiritu's Facebook page Engineer Paolo Espiritu posing with the Diwata-1 micro-satellite in Japan. Credit from Paolo Espiritu’s Facebook page[/caption] In his post that went viral last week, Paolo Espiritu lamented the ?outrageous? policy and behavior of the DOST and its officials with regard to the implementation of the groundbreaking project. The DOST, in a statement issued on Tuesday, April 5, said it has already met with Espiritu and two other project engineers who are currently present in the country. As a result of the meeting, the DOST and the PHL-Microsat program said it is issuing the statement to “provide certain clarifications and resolutions as a way to move forward.”

1. In 2014, the DOST PHL-Microsat Program was implemented to build the country?s first micro-satellite in collaboration with Hokkaido and Tohoku universities in Japan and to provide an opportunity for the nine engineers involved in the project to obtain their MS degrees from these institutions. 2. Under this plan, the engineers were issued student visas to allow them to stay in Japan to build the micro-satellite and finish their MS programs in pertinent engineering fields. 3. DOST finds nothing derogatory with the term ?student?. 4. As scholars, the Diwata-1 engineers in fact receive stipends 35% higher compared to what a Monbusho scholarship provides. On top of that they also get additional compensation for their work in the development of the micro-satellite. 5. Communication lines between the engineers, the project team and the DOST have always been open. On their concern on the workload of the original seven engineers, the program team responded by sending two additional engineers to help in the Diwata-1 development. Moreover, for Diwata-2, more personnel will be sent and longer development time will be provided. 6. Training of the local team members is provided for in the PHL-Microsat budget. Their participation is equally important and cleared by their project leaders and by DOST. The task of building, launching and operating a micro-satellite done by the 9-member Japan-based team has to be supported by other necessary two of two activities such as the establishment of the ground control station, calibration and validation of sensors, remote sensing product development, building up a micro-satellite research and instructional facility, etc. This necessitates the travel to Japan of the local team members to train with their Japanese counterparts. 7. The DOST and the PHL-Microsat program reiterate their recognition of the efforts of the Filipino engineers and scientists involved in the development of Diwata-1 and continue to highlight and emphasize their contributions and accomplishments in various venues. 8. The only “fancy food” the DOST officials took was at the simple dinner hosted by Hokkaido and Tohoku universities for some officials of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), professors from the two Japanese universities and the Philippine Diwata team including the engineers, two DOST officials and one UP official. 9. The two DOST officials went to Japan in January 2016 for the following purposes: 1) to meet with JAXA officials (the President, Vice Presidents among others) and officially turnover Diwata to JAXA, the program partner for the transport of Diwata to NASA; 2) to meet with officials of the Japanese Ministry of Trade and Industry (METI); and 3) promote the Balik Scientist Program among the Japan-based Filipino S&T experts in collaboration with the Philippine Embassy in Japan and the S&T Advisory Council (STAC), Japan Chapter. These DOST officials were given no more than a daily subsistence allowance as allowed by government rules. 10. A return service obligation is a conditio sine qua non imposed on all government-funded scholarships. This return service obligation can be fulfilled by working in the Philippines for the required number of years with salaries paid by employers whether in government, private entities or the academe. 11. The service bonds are not meant as payment for scholarships and expenses made by the state for all grantees/scholars. They provide a mechanism for the country to benefit from what our scientists and engineers have learned in their programs. DOST is currently supporting more than 16,000 S&T undergraduate scholars and Philippine Science High School scholars and more than 2,000 Masters and Doctoral students both here and abroad. 12. The return service obligations are in accordance with existing laws and policies and are clearly stated in the contracts signed by the engineers. However, DOST will continue to explore equitable terms within the boundaries of such laws and policies. 13. DOST takes this opportunity to recognize the contributions of its scholars in nation building through science, technology and innovation.
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