PAGASA upgrade bill gets House nod

By Paolo Romero, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 22 2014 03:59 AM | Updated as of May 22 2014 11:59 AM

MANILA, Philippines - A bill seeking an extendable three-year modernization program for the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has been approved on second reading at the House of Representatives.

The bill would task the secretary of science and technology and PAGASA administrator in coordination with the secretary of budget and management and director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority to formulate a modernization program and submit it within 90 days upon the effectivity of the law.

Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo authored House Bill 4397, the proposed “PAGASA Modernization Act,” along with Representatives Diosdado Arroyo of Camarines Sur, Aristotle Aumentado of Bohol, Rodel Batocabe of Ako Bicol, Eufranio Eriguel of La Union, Lani Mercado-Revilla of Cavite, Marie Ann Pernes of Siquijor, Mariano Piamonte of A Teacher, Roman Romulo of Pasig, Xavier Romualdo of Camiguin, Marcelino Teodoro of Marikina, Mariano Velarde of Buhay and Arthur Yap of Bohol.

The lawmakers said the modernization program must include the upgrading of PAGASA’s equipment and facilities; improvement of its research and development capability; promotion of human resources development; development of mechanisms for integrating disaster management to socio-economic urban and rural development; establishment of regional weather centers; improvement of its public information systems; and the development of a technology-based and financially self-sufficient data center.

Under the human resources development component, the bill would mandate PAGASA to boost its training programs to include post-graduate degree education, as well as scholarship programs.

The bill also seeks to mandate the Department of Science and Technology and the Department of Budget and Management to develop a new salary scale consistent with Republic Act 8439, the Magna Carta for Scientists, Engineers, Researchers, and other Science and Technology personnel in government.

The bill would also include a provision on “cost recovery measures” where the PAGASA will implement a program that would allow it to earn revenue from its issuance of specialized weather information, certifications and scientific and technical publications.