Press Release
August 17, 2015

Senate gives green light to PAGASA modernization

The Senate today approved on third and final reading a bill which seeks to modernize the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) to make it more responsive to changing weather conditions.

Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, sponsor of Senate Bill 2834, said the proposed law sought to provide additional funds for the procurement of modern equipment such as Doppler radars and the setting up of world-class weather data center and other equipment to enhance PAGASA's capabilities in providing accurate and timely weather forecasts.

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon, who is one of the co-authors of the bill, said that the modernization of PAGASA would greatly boost the nation's ability to "effectively manage weather and geological related risks, minimize the vulnerability of people and investments, and boost the resilience of institutions and communities."

Recto said a key component of the Philippines' climate change preparation was a well-equipped weather bureau, manned by highly competent and well-compensated professionals."

Currently, he said, a string of 10 Doppler radars provided service from Aparri, Cagayan to Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur. Five more radars are being built, he added.

Recto said funds would be provided for research and development, expansion of international and local linkages and joint venture programs and the building up of its human resources pool.

Under the proposed law, he said, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR) would set aside P3 billion from its gross income to finance the PAGASA modernization. He said the amount would be taken from the 50 percent share of the national government, which amounted to P14 billion in 2014.

Other revenue sources, he said, would come from grants, bequests, donations, budgetary surpluses, Official Development Assistance (ODA) and income from the PAGASA Modernization Fund.

Recto said PAGASA would need a capital outlay of P3.9 billion for its modernization program, of which 45 million will be needed annually for the salary increases of its personnel and P70 million for their training and scholarships.

"PAGASA has been beset with talented weather forecasters who leave the country because of low morale caused by ageing equipment giving erroneous weather data. That is why the proposed measure also includes a new salary scale for PAGASA personnel and a 'personnel retention incentive' not exceeding 20 percent of the basic salary of qualified personnel," he said.

He said the proposed law would also provide for a scholarship program for undergraduate and graduate degrees in meteorology and related fields.

"I am confident that these investments in PAGASA will dwarf the damages caused by typhoons in this climate change era when they are coming in from unexpected places, with unexpected strengths, and at unexpected times," Recto stressed. (Yvonne Almirañez)

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