Lawmakers in the lower House have approved the formation of a technical working group to consolidate proposed bills pioneering a Philippine space program, a project which President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed support.
The technical working group, said the House committees on government reorganization, and science and technology, would aim to further plans to found a Philippine Space Development and Utilization Policy, and a Philippine Space Agency (PSA), in fulfillment of the administration’s 10-point economic agenda, which includes developing science and technology.
In a statement on Thursday, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Undersecretary for Research and Development Rowena Guevarra said she is confident that Filipino scientists are capable and have the scientific expertise to do research on space technology.
The Philippines is among 5 Southeast Asian countries with no space agency. The others are Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Brunei.
It has been 3 years, Guevarra said, since the Philippines launched its micro-satellite project under the Diwata Program, so Filipino scientists are not strangers to the space race.
Under House Bill Nos. 3637, 4275, 4367, and 4623, the Philippine Space Development and Utilization Policy will serve as the country’s primary strategic roadmap for space development, possibly leading the country to become a space-faring nation in the next decade, DOST said.
The PSA meanwhile will stand as the central government agency tasked to handle issues and projects that will have to do with space science, and its technological applications.
Earlier this month, DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Pena said that Duterte might soon sign an order to create the National Space Development Office, a precursor to the PSA.
In November last year, Dela Pena said that they are looking to earmark P1 billion for space technology in 2017 or 2018.
Sufficient funds, he said, would allow the country to explore improvements, through space technology, in national security and development, hazard management and climate studies, space industry and capacity building, and education.
Previously, the government invested around P840 million leading up to the launch of the first microsatellite designed and built by Filipinos, Diwata 1. Diwata 1 was launched into orbit from the International Space Station in April this year.
Technologies which arose from space research include satellite television, mobile communication, medical apparatus, the global positioning system (GPS), scratch-resistant glass, and cordless tools, among others.