Wednesday, August 14, 2019

New LAW Signs into Existence Official National SPACE AGENCY: “PHILSA”

The Philippines has long prided itself in showing that what any foreign nation can do it can do likewise, and with likely smaller resources and funds to boot. That includes even taking steps into the “final frontier” of space. During the 1990s a private Filipino company became the country’s first aerospace corporation that operated communication satellites for telecom and media network use (using satellites bought overseas). In this decade the Philippine government’s science agencies co-developed the first Filipino-designed micro-satellites with Japanese university aid. But the country has never had a dedicated space agency of its own, until one was signed into being just last week.

GMA News has it that among the series of legislation made official by President Rodrigo Duterte last week is a law creating the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA). Republic Act 11363, signed August 8 and publicized this week, calls for a Philippine Space Development and Utilization Policy that will actively develop a national infrastructure for space satellites and eventual exploration. The end goal is to make the Philippines “space-capable and space-faring” within ten years, to cut on over-reliance with foreign aerospace facilities. This is embodied in the PhilSA and an advisory body, the Philippine Space Council.

To kick things off for the national space agency, PhilSA will receive P1 billion in appropriated funds from the Office of the President within this current fiscal year. The General Appropriations Act will then alter include a share for the maintenance of agency operations for the foreseeable future. As for capital outlay, PhilSA will get an additional P10 billion from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) gross income within a period of five years following the effective start date of the Space Development and Utilization Policy. That means a yearly funding of P2 billion from PAGCOR and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).

Meanwhile, the Philippine Space Council will advise the Office of the President on coordinating and integrating further policies of the PhilSA, with the President itself sitting at its head. The council shall have oversight of potential tech applications and space sciences developed by the national space agency, the resources needed and the specific programs launched.

The BCDA is involved in funding PhilSA because the proposed site for its head office and space facilities will be a 30-hectare land area within the Clark Special Economic Zone between Pampanga and Tarlac. More research areas and even launch sites will be sited as need in the following years.

Image courtesy of CNN Philippines


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