Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. has moved to strengthen the capability of PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) as the first line of defense against typhoons and to stop the brain-drain in the agency.
This developed as Marcos filed Senate Bill 2097, to be known as “The PAGASA Modernization Act of 2014,” seeking to implement a 3-year modernization plan for the agency.
“There is a need to modernize the equipment and facilities of PAGASA, further train its personnel, and increase the base pay and benefits of its officials and personnel to improve the agency’s service and enhance professionalism and patriotism among its employees,” Marcos said.
PAGASA’s mandate is to provide protection against atmospheric, astronomical and other weather related and natural calamities caused by typhoons, floods, landslides, storm surges, extreme climactic events, climate change and other weather phenomena, and utilize scientific knowledge as an effective instrument to ensure the safety, well-being and economic security of all the people, and for promotion of national progress.
But Marcos noted the inaccurate weather forecasts of the agency due to inadequate, if not obsolete, equipment, plus the lack of preparedness of the government and the public, have failed to protect the people against weather related calamities. An average of 20 to 25 typhoons hit the country yearly.
“These errors committed by the agency are attributed to the inadequate equipment and technical know-how to its personnel to cope up with the changing weather and climate conditions in the country,” Marcos said.
In the bill, a 3-year PAGASA modernization plan shall be implemented to upgrade its physical and operational techniques by acquiring state-of-the-art instruments, equipment and facilities capable of providing timely, accurate and reliable weather, flood, and climate monitoring forecasts.
A component of the plan is the establishment and enhancement of regional weather services, cultivation of greater awareness by the public of weather systems, progress of typhoons, floods and other related hazards information through educational programs and projects, and the use of social media.
Also, there shall be a development of mechanisms for an integrated disaster management and socioeconomic urban and rural development planning, and technology-based and financially self-sufficient data center as the central information for real time weather related updates that will be available to the public.
The modernization plan also includes the determination of a better and more competitive base pay and other benefits of its personnel to promote professionalism and commitment to the service.
“Recently, there have been reports of dissension among, and exodus, of employees of the agency due to low wage and insufficient benefits given to them considering the highly technical nature of their functions and the hazards they face on the job,” Marcos said.
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