Ex-PAGASA chief says he's a victim of politics

By Caroline J. Howard, ANC

Posted at Aug 10 2010 11:53 AM | Updated as of Aug 11 2010 03:36 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Former PAGASA administrator Prisco Nilo on Monday said he has accepted his removal from his post but noted that he may have been a victim of politics.

Nilo received his walking papers on August 5. The document said he lacked 16 hours of training for Career Executive Service Officer (CESO) eligibility.

"They said the official reason for my removal was my lack of CESO training. I lacked 16 hours of training, about 2 days, to complete the training requirement," he told ANC's "The Rundown."

He added, however, that after serving the weather bureau for 27 years, he believes he may have been a victim of politics.

"Sa tingin ko may naninira sa akin. Mali ang information na fini-feed. Napakasimple naman ng ambisyon ko sa buhay. Sa tingin ko, sa PAGASA ako magiging epektibo e so hangang doon lang. Walang political na plans, ganon lang," he said.

On Monday, Department of Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo said Nilo performed below par as PAGASA head.

President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, meanwhile, said there were "irreconcilable differences" between Montejo and Nilo.
   
"There are fundamental differences between their approaches to the task at hand, and I support my Secretary's position on the matter, that there are irreconcilable differences. So if they are not of one, therefore, the services of PAGASA cannot be improved. Therefore, the secretary has been given the authority to look for that individual who they can work with better," he said.

DOST Undersecretary Graciano Yumul, who was designated Officer-in-Charge of PAGASA, said Nilo has been transferred to the special study division of the DOST.

No mistake in forecast

Nilo denied that PAGASA failed to accurately forecast that Typhoon Basyang (international name Conson) would hit Metro Manila last July 13.  He, however, said there is a need to fast-track forecasting to allow PAGASA to issue more frequent typhoon bulletins.

"Wala talagang pagkakamali.  We just have to keep on updating.  We're able to do that but on a 6-hour basis.  If you can do it every 3 hours it would mean more information for the people," he said.

He said he has already laid the groundwork to improve PAGASA's weather forecasting capability with the scheduled installation of Doppler radars in 6 months.

"The radars will be set up in 6 months.  Yung ginawa namin parating na rin.  Konti nalang and gagawin nila, except the communication system to enable it to update the system every three hours," he said.

Lean staff prone to fatigue

Nilo also admitted that many of PAGASA's meteorologists have left for better opportunities abroad. He warned that PAGASA's senior weather forecasters will have a difficult time monitoring upcoming typhoons because of the lack of experienced meteorologists in the agency.

"Right now there are 16 but only 3 are experienced and we work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Practically whole year round (we're) working 24 hours. So if there's a typhoon that would last, its duration in the Philippine Area of Responsibility is five days.  There's going to be fatigue in those three senior forecasters," he said.
   
Nilo said working abroad will be his last option after a long career in PAGASA. For now, he said he will comply with the assignment to work with the special concerns unit of the DOST.