Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Salceda: Space agency for Philippines now a must
By Johnny C. Nunez

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 15 (PNA) -- Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda has filed a bill in Congress that seeks to establish the country’s space development and utilization policy and create the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) as the primary state agency that will spearhead the program of space access, science and technology applications.

The measure, House Bill No. 4367, also referred to as the “Philippine Space Act of 2016,” serves as a response to the country’s growing need for a secure and independent access to space through the establishment of its own space policy and space agency. As conceived, PhilSA will be the central state agency that will address all national issues and concerns related to space science and technology applications, and safeguard the country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and interests.

Salceda said PhilSA shall be the primary policy, planning, coordinating, implementing and administrative body of the executive branch of government that will plan, develop, and promote a national space program in line with the Philippine Space Policy.

He noted that space technology has become ubiquitous so that many vital and modern activities would not operate without space systems, such as satellites, to provide capabilities in communications, navigation, environmental monitoring and disaster assessment, and defense and security, “This makes space infrastructure and capabilities as indispensable assets and an essential requirements for any modern country,” he added.

As a developing country and an emerging economic powerhouse in the Asia-Pacific region, Salceda said it is crucial for the Philippines to embark on an efficient utilization of space science and technology applications to address various national development and security issues and keep up with the rest of the world that is gradually becoming more space capable.

He said the “creation of a national space policy to serve as the Philippines’ primary strategic roadmap for space development will embody the goal of the country to become a space-capable and space-faring nation”.

The establishment of PhilSA to address space-related issues, advance space science and technology research, coordinate all national space activities, and provide a framework for harmonious cooperation will ensure the country’s space development goals are realized. With a strong national space policy and agency, the Philippines can become a significant member and contributor to the global space community in the future, he added.

As defined, HB 4367 aims to safeguard Philippine sovereignty, territorial integrity, interest, and the right to self determination as mandated under Article II, section 7 of the 1987 Constitution; support and commit to the development of science and technology and its application for national security and for the benefits of Filipinos; ensure access to space and its environs as a sovereign right; and stipulate the need to create a national strategy for space development.

The bill also seeks to: recognize the urgent need to create a coherent and unified program and strategy for space development and utilization to keep up with other nations in terms of space science and technology; ensure the country’s official representation in the international space community for establishing cooperation agreements and linkages on space development; and ensure that the Philippines abides by the various international space treaties and principles promulgated by the United Nations and is an active participant in the international space community. (PNA) LAP/JCN/SSC