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Public Hearing on PAGASA Modernization

Manila, Philippines – The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) conducted its third public hearing on Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the PAGASA Modernization Act last May 16 in Ortigas, Pasig City.
The working draft of the IRR includes the following:
1. Acquisition and development of state-of-the-art instruments and systems that will enhance the bureau’s capabilities in providing information on weather, flood and climate monitoring. These include the High Frequency Doppler Radar, Meteorological Glider/Drone, High Performance Computing System, Mobile Upper Air sounding system, Lightning Detection and additional Doppler Radars, among others. Apart from regional calibrating centers, a redundant forecasting system will be set up at the Cebu station, which can take the place of the central office in case the capital city is paralyzed.
2. To enhance public information, education and advocacy on atmospheric, astronomical, and hydro-meteorological hazards, such as heavy rainfall, strong winds, floods, rain-induced landslides, storm surges, droughts and other extreme weather and climatic events.
3. To provide its personnel with more competitive compensation and benefits to encourage commitment and fill up positions left by veteran employees pirated abroad. This is in accordance with Republic Act No. 8349, also known as the Magna Carta for Scientists, Engineers, Researchers and other Science and Technology Workers in the Government.
4. To strengthen manpower by adding plantilla positions that can contribute to information and communication technology, and by strengthening capacity building among its employees.
The IRR has specifically requested a P3-billion modernization fund, which will be spent from 2017 to 2019. The budget will be taken from the national government’s share in the gross income of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) and will be released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in two tranches.
The public consultation took place in Davao City and Bohol before the NCR leg, and will have its last hearing in Laoag City on May 31.
Road to Modernization
Though PAGASA remains to be one of the most relevant and important government agencies in the country, its road to modernization was fraught with challenges and delays.
In 1996, a 6-Year Modernization Program was crafted to enhance the state weather bureau, requesting a P10-billion fund that was not granted. However, the government gave P25 million to PAGASA to create the Philippine Interactive Climate and Weather Information Network (PICWIN), a project that led to the creation of a PAGASA-hosted website, and a means to transition systems from manual to numerical.
On November and December 2004, Tropical Depressions Violeta and Winnie, and Typhoons Yoyong and Unding caused havoc in Real, General Nakar and Aurora in Quezon Province, as well as Guinsaugon in Leyte. These devastations paved the way to prompting the government to modernize PAGASA, especially in the propagation of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.
On June 2013, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile resigned as Senate President. With two days left in calendar for the 15th congress, the last reading of the PAGASA Modernization Bill was cancelled.
On November 2015, the PAGASA Modernization Act was passed and signed by President Benigno Aquino III.