In the Philippines, all matters related to space used to fall under the Department of Science and Technology. But that has changed already since the creation of a new government body in August 2019, centralizing all efforts to advance the research and development of space science in the country. This makes the Philippines the sixth Southeast Asian country to have its own space agency.
Called PhilSA or the Philippine Space Agency, it is pretty much like our NASA counterpart. The goal of PhilSA is to make the Philippines “a space capable and spacefaring nation within the next decade.”
The agency, which was created after Rodrigo Duterte signed the Philippine Space Act or RA 11363 in August 8, 2019, is allotted with one billion pesos as initial operating fund for 2020 which is sourced from the Office of the President.
According to DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña, a total of P 7.48 billion were spent on space research and development through the DOST since 2010, training more than 1,000 experts on space, implementing 15 space-related programs and projects, and building 25 space research facilities across the country. In February 2019, it was revealed that the Philippines is capable of running a space agency.
“This landmark bill will pave the way for the Philippines to join other nations which have their own space agencies. We are no longer bystanders when it comes to [space] technology. We can now do things. What we have done mostly were in the areas of space research and development, and space industry capacity building,” Sec. Dela Peña said in a press conference.
Applications of this space program will focus on the country’s national security, hazard management and climate studies, space research and development, space industry capacity building, space education and awareness, and international cooperation.
In the hopes of launching the first space rocket in Philippine soil, a 30-hectare land within the Clark Special Economic Zone was reserved for the facilities of the PhilSA. It will be under the administration of the BCDA or Bases Conversion and Development Authority.
Joel Joseph Marciano, Jr. is tasked to steer the wheel for PhilSA after being appointed in December 5, 2019 as its first-ever head. Now a Cabinet Secretary, he used to be the acting director of DOST’s Advanced Science and Technology Institute.
Once the infrastructure will be in place, it is expected for Filipinos to make more contributions in the field of space research and development, following the footsteps of locally-made satellites Diwata 1 & 2 and Maya-1 which are both currently operational.
Top Photo via Mashable