Solon wants to modernize Pagasa

A lawmaker today urged the government to improve the country’s capability in addressing climate change through additional funding for the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).

Likewise, Rep. Angelo Palmones (Party-list, AGHAM) said there is an urgent need to modernize Pagasa and augment the budget of some government schools, which are offering courses on meteorology.

“Climate change is inevitable. And one way of mitigating and adapting to its effects is to develop and train new staff who will eventually man the new PAGASA,” Palmones said.

Palmones said the government should augment the budget of PAGASA so it can pursue its modernization program by procuring new equipment and recruitment of new personnel.

“Human resource empowerment is an equally important parallel endeavor which would address not only climate change adaptation but also the country’s problem on the brain drain,” said Palmones, Vice-Chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology.

Palmones was referring to former officials and employees of PAGASA who resigned from their jobs to seek green pasture abroad.

Palmones said the Consortium for Meteorological Education and Training or “Project COMET” was launched recently. It is a consortium of four universities – namely the Bicol University, Mariano Marcos State University, Central Luzon State University and Visayas State University – which will be offering BS Meteorology in the coming school year as an additional Engineering course.

“The project will not only produce meteorology experts for the Philippines, but also to develop world-class human resource to address the exodus of our specialists abroad,” Palmones said.

Palmones added that the Agham Party will fund the first 40 scholars who will be identified by these universities and they are still looking for possible sources of funding to increase the number of scholars who will benefit from the program.

“Students who are taking up engineering, math or physics courses would be encouraged to shift to a BS meteorology course,” Palmones said.

Palmones explained that the main reason for introducing the course to engineering students is to encourage the invention of local devices which would aid them, instead of relying on importation of monitoring devices – such as seismic and flood monitoring instruments – as well as indigenous and readily-available resources to be used in the adaptation programs.

“The country has the best laboratory for disasters. We are exposed to an average of 21 typhoons every year which is the best testing ground for technologies these students could develop,” Palmones said.

Palmones also proposed the review of the National Service Training Program (NSTP) and to study possible additional funding provisions to strengthen the program.

According to Palmones the Agham Party is also looking into the revival of the Project NEST, or the Neighborhood Emergency Services Team, through the NSTP, which aims to train quick reaction teams within the community and schools to give each sector of society a sense of responsibility in mapping out disaster-prone areas in their

“We don’t need a law to activate this program, we just need volunteersto work on NEST,” Palmones said. D’Jay Lazaro


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