Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Philippines to be sixth Asean country that has space agency

Philippines to be sixth Asean country that has space agency

Philippines to be sixth Asean country that has space agency

Science geeks rejoice. Republic Act No11363 or the Philippine Space Act, which lays the groundwork for the country’s space technology roadmap in the next decade through the creation of the Philippine Space Agency (Philsa) – was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this month.

This makes the Philippines the sixth country in Southeast Asia to have its own space agency after Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Philsa, with an initial funding of 10 billion pesos ($191 million) spread over five years, will support research and development programmes aimed at improving the lives of Filipinos, as well as enhancing the country’s national security.

It will organise all space-related activities focusing on six areas – national security and development; hazard management and climate studies; space research and development; space industry capacity-building; space education and awareness; and international cooperation.

In the mid-1960s, the government built a ground satellite station in Rizal and entered into a joint venture to put up the Philippine Communications Satellite (Philcomsat).

Philcomsat had an exclusive franchise for satellite communication in Southeast Asia, South Korea and Japan, and provided the equipment that allowed Asians to watch the Apollo 11 launch on July 16, 1969.

Over the past decades, the country has moved forward – though very slowly – in space technology, with the help of other countries.

It reached a big breakthrough when in April 2016, Diwata-1, the first micro-satellite owned by the government and developed by local engineers, was launched into orbit. Two other satellites have since been launched – Maya-1 in June 2018 and Diwata-2 in October last year.

“When you talk about the Philippine Space programme, normally, the first thing that comes to mind is sending people to space,” said Dr Rogel Mari Sese, an astrophysicist and one of Philsa’s main proponents.

“What we are more concerned about is bringing the benefits of space technologies and applications to the Philippines.”

These applications include transmitting signals for TV, mobile phones and broadband.

Space science can also capture satellite images that help scientists monitor environmental conditions. During disasters, it can identify affected areas and their accessibility.

In an archipelago like the Philippines, this will also greatly improve connectivity between islands. The technology can also monitor areas like the West Philippine Sea, a flashpoint for unsanctioned activities.

With its funding and over 1,000 space science experts “ready, willing and able” to join Philsa, the new space law should improve the country’s space technology capabilities and encourage more youth to pursue space science.

PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ANN

MOST VIEWED

  • Rainsy stopped in Paris from boarding Thai flight

    Airline officials at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport on Thursday prevented Sam Rainsy from boarding his flight to Bangkok ahead of his announced return to Cambodia on Saturday. Prime Minister Hun Sen had earlier in the day assured Phnom Penh residents that there would be

  • Analyst: Rainsy blocked from boarding flight 'an excuse'

    THAI Airways not allowing Sam Rainsy on its route from Paris to Bangkok on Thursday is being used as an excuse to keep his standing among fellow coup plotters and his uninformed supporters as flights to non-Asean countries are available, an analyst said on Friday.

  • Rainsy lands in Malaysia

    Cambodian opposition figure Sam Rainsy arrived in Kuala Lumpur airport on Saturday afternoon after boarding a flight from Paris, where he has been living for more than four years. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesperson Koy Kuong said on Saturday that Cambodia respected

  • Touch: Rainsy will never return

    Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), has claimed it has achieved 70 per cent of its struggle to find a solution to the current political situation in the Kingdom. Just before boarding a plane at Charles de Gaulle

  • Sokha continues call for dropping of charge after bail conditions reduced

    Not satisfied with having his bail conditions reduced, allowing him to travel freely in Cambodia, Kem Sokha says he wants his charge totally dropped. “As an innocent man who has been in detention for two years even without being found guilty, I continue to demand

  • MEPs' call for Rainsy's safety not European Parliament position

    The European Parliament said on Friday that a statement by 56 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) calling for guarantees of Sam Rainsy’s freedom and safety should he return to Cambodia did not represent its position. Delphine Colard, the European Parliament’s press officer told