MANILA -- The Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to strengthen the country’s space program with the creation of a Philippine Space Agency.
With 18 affirmative votes and no negative votes, the Senate passed Bill 1983, otherwise known as an Act Establishing the Philippine Space Development and Utilization Policy and Creating the Philippine Space Agency.
Senator Benigno Aquino IV, author and sponsor of the measure, said the launch of a space program in the Philippines would give Filipinos a new perspective and valuable insights that could help solve some of the country's biggest problem.
"Satellites can improve disaster management, from providing accurate information that allow early warnings and predicting of disasters to reliable and quick communication during relief and recovery operations," Aquino said.
He said space technology could also enhance production and profitability of agribusinesses due to soil and weather monitoring and assessment.
It could help conserve and preserve the environment, improve urban planning, transportation and communication networks.
Aquino expressed hope that the proposed legislation would propel the Philippines to be space-capable in the next decade.
If enacted into law, the Philippine Space Development and Utilization Policy, as stated in the bill, would serve as the Philippines' strategic roadmap for space development.
Under the bill, initial funding for the space program in the amount of PHP1 billion will be taken from the current fiscal year's appropriation of the Office of the President.
The amount for the subsequent operation and maintenance of the PhilSA will be included in the General Appropriations Act.
Additional funding amounting to PHP10 billion will come from the gross income of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) for five years after the effectivity of the act, with PHP2 billion to be released to PhilSA yearly.
PhilSA may also derive income on its specialized products, services and royalties, as well as accept funding from loans, contributions, grants, bequests, gifts, donations provided that such grants, bequests, contribution and donations from foreign governments will be approved by the President upon the recommendation of the PhilSA director general.
According to the bill, the PhilSA office and its research facilities will be housed in at least 30 hectares of land under the administration of the BCDA within the Clark Special Economic Zone in Pampanga and Tarlac.
Additional areas for research and launch sites will also be developed in the future. (PNA)