Press Release
February 17, 2008

P5-billion Pagasa modernization plan pushed Senator cites US assistance to RP weather agency

Sen. Loren Legarda has gladly received the US government's decision to extend a grant of $381,000 to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).

"We definitely welcome the assistance, which comes at a time when we were facing severe climate changes that threaten to produce potentially more destructive weather disturbances in the months head," Legarda said.

The US government earlier said it is providing the grant to help strengthen the Philippines' disaster risk management resources and early warning system.

Legarda is author of two separate bills seeking to establish a P5-billion modernization program for Pagasa, and proposing the creation of Climate Change Commission.

Under Senate Bill 1397, the proposed Pagasa Modernization Act introduced by Legarda, the weather agency would get P5-billion in fresh funding over six years to upgrade its staff, systems, facilities and equipment.

The cash-rich, state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp would provide a portion of the new money.

"We have to quickly reinforce Pagasa's capability to monitor, analyze and forecast potential weather hazards, including typhoons, monsoons and landslides, and to inform the public about them," Legarda stressed.

"This way, we will improve in a big way Pagasa's readiness to perform its mission to protect life, property, the environment and the economy against weather disturbances and other natural hazards," Legarda added.

The Philippines is prone to natural disasters, including powerful storms emanating from the Pacific Ocean. The Philippines also lies in the so-called "Ring of Fire," an area of frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions encircling the basin of the Pacific Ocean.

As proposed by Legarda, the Pagasa modernization program would have the following objectives:

  • To upgrade physical resources and operational techniques through acquisition of state-of-the-art instruments, equipment and facilities to improve capabilities in providing timely and reliable forecasting, warning services, and information for agriculture, transportation, and other industries across the country;

  • To raise the research and development capability and human resource development, adopting a rationalized and integrated approach, with focus on improvement of operations for specialized services and cost recovery;

  • To develop mechanisms for integrating disaster management and socio-economic development planning at the national and local levels;

  • To establish regional weather service centers in strategic areas in the country to broaden the agency's bases for delivery of services to the countryside; and

  • To heighten public awareness of weather systems via educational projects and programs on storm signals, the progress of typhoons, climatic changes and other related information.

Meanwhile, Senate Bill 1890 proposes to install a commission that would finds ways to enable the country to adapt to adverse climate changes, and to mitigate the impact of such unfavorable conditions.

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