The House of Representatives approved House Bill 8541 otherwise known as the Philippine Space Development Act on its third and final reading on Tuesday, December 4.
The HB 8541 served as “an act establishing the Philippine space development and utilization policy and creating the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA), defining the purpose and scope of its activities and appropriating funds.”
PhilSA will become a national agency in charge of space science, engineering, and other related fields. The said agency will be mandated to look after the development and promotion of the Philippines’ national space program.
The policy that encapsulates the bill aims to be “the country’s primary strategic roadmap for space development.” It also seeks to make the Philippines a “space-capable and space-faring nation within the next decade.”
Under the wing of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), HB 8541 provides the establishment of PhilSA as the central government agency overseeing all national issues and activities related to the use of space science and technology applications (SSTA). The SSTA is referred to in the bill as the “scientific principles and their applications to space science, engineering, and other allied fields.”
The measure also proposes a framework on space policy that focuses on six key development areas including national security and development, hazard management and climate studies, space research and development, space industry capacity building, space education and awareness and international cooperation.
At present, several agencies are currently shouldering the functions that are often entrusted to space agencies. Some functions include disaster risk management under the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), astronomical science studies under the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) and mapping under the National Mapping and Resource Information Agency (NAMRIA).
The National Space Development Program funded by DOST and monitored by the DOST-Philippine Council for Industry and Emerging Technology Research and Development is responsible for the “frameworks and foundations” of the proposed first central space agency in the country.
In an article from Rappler, the program is said to be implemented through a collaboration between the University of the Philippines-Diliman, the DOST-Advanced Science and Technology Institute, Hokkaido University, and Tohoku University.
Although the Philippines have yet to establish a central space agency, it did not impede the country’s advances in space science. Diwata 2, the second Philippine-made, Earth-observing microsatellite was launched last October 29 from Tanegashima Space Center. Diwata 2 is created to capture images of Earth for environmental assessment. It is specifically used to monitor the extent of damage from disasters.
HB 8541’s counterpart in the upper house — Senate Bill 1211 — introduced by Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV is now on the committee level.