The Philippine Space Council (PSC) convened for the 7th PSC meeting on 18 December 2023 at the Joy~Nostalg Hotel & Suites Manila, Pasig City to discuss the progress of the implementation of the Philippine Space Policy and the development and utilization of space science and technology applications (SSTA) in the country. The meeting was presided by PSC co-Vice Chairperson and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Renato Solidum, Jr., as designated by PSC Chairperson and Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.
“The importance of the Philippine Space Council has been emphasized so many times with the global warming [and] with the natural hazards that have been affecting the country, and of course— the incoming El Niño. Images from space would be very relevant in monitoring not only the effects of these threats, but again, also more importantly, what we are doing on the ground that we can actually observe from above,” PSC Chairperson-designate and DOST Secretary Solidum remarked.
The attendees included designated representatives by the PSC members, namely: Department of National Defense (DND) Undersecretary for Capability and Assessment and Development Angelito De Leon on behalf of co-Vice Chairperson and Secretary Gilberto Eduardo Gerardo Teodoro, Jr.; Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary for Integrated Environmental Science Carlos Primo David representing Secretary Maria Antonio Yulo-Loyzaga; Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs and International Economic Relations Charles Jose representing Secretary Enrique Manalo; Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Assistant Secretary for Free Wi-Fi and National Broadband Implementation Philip Varilla on behalf of Secretary Ivan John Uy; Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-Bureau of Trade and Industrial Policy Research Director Janet Cuenca representing Secretary Fred Pascual; Department of Agriculture (DA)-Information and Communications Technology Service Director Honorio Flameño on behalf of Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel, Jr.; and Department of Finance (DOF)-Privatization and Corporate Affairs Group Assistant Secretary Glenda Rumohr representing Secretary Benjamin Diokno.
During the meeting, representatives from DND, DFA, DICT, and DENR delivered messages highlighting their departments’ space-related initiatives and expressing support for PhilSA’s collaborative efforts in developing and leveraging national space capabilities.
“As space science and technology has emerged as an important component of defense functions and missions in recent years, the DND remains steadfast in supporting the initiatives and efforts of PSC in coordinating and integrating policies, programs, and resources on space science and technology applications,” said DND Undersecretary De Leon.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs is pleased to note that PhilSA continues to advance the Philippines’ interests in space with other countries and within the United Nations system,” DFA Undersecretary Jose noted. He also affirmed the Department’s commitment to working closely with PhilSA by providing strategic and policy guidance, with a view to realizing Philippine space-related initiatives for the advancement of the country’s long term socioeconomic development plans and goal of becoming an even more active and responsible space actor.
DICT Assistant Secretary Varilla expressed his gratitude to the national space agency and member agencies for their activities on promoting and developing project and programs related to satellite technology applications. “We are also closely coordinating and collaborating with the PhilSA to realize our common endeavor to establish our satellite industry and provide essential services to the Filipinos via satellite systems and technology,” he highlighted.
DENR Undersecretary David reiterated the statements of other government agencies regarding PhilSA’s substantive contributions in support of their respective mandates. In particular, he highlighted DENR’s partnership with PhilSA through the Geospatial Database Office (GDO), where PhilSA provides technical assistance on forest land and mangrove monitoring. He also recognized PhilSA’s support in the Mindoro oil spill incident. The use of remotely sensed information as well as GIS for monitoring and surveillance work addresses one key gaps in the department’s implementation of rules and regulation pertaining to environment management.
“So, I wish to just convey my thanks and gratitude to PhilSA and I hope that our partnership continues in 2024,” DENR Undersecretary David added.
Report of the PhilSA Director General
PhilSA Director General Joel Joseph Marciano, Jr. delivered a report on the status of PhilSA organization, its activities and plans. He announced that the next phase of the development of the Multispectral Unit for Land Assessment (MULA) satellite was kicked off in November 2023 and PhilSA engineers are now working with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) in the United Kingdom on the design and development, assembly and space readiness testing of the 130 kg multispectral Earth observation satellite. He also introduced the “Angkop sa Kalawakan, Yari at Tatak Pilipinas” or “AKYAT Pilipinas” initiative, which underscores the potential contribution of local space manufacturing to the global space supply chain and industry.
DG Marciano also provided updates on the ratification of UN Space Treaties and the Agency’s contributions to the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on Reducing Space Threats. The Agency represents the country in various international space fora, including the UN Group of Governmental Experts on further effective measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS), notably as the sole representative from Southeast Asia.
On the space education and awareness front, PhilSA supported the launch demonstration of TALA hybrid rocket developed by young innovators from Sta. Cecilia College Cebu and facilitated the Call for Proposals for the Asian Try Zero-G initiative of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), where two experiments from Filipino students were successfully selected to be performed by astronauts at the International Space Station. PhilSA recently launched “Si Tala at ang Kanyang Lakbay Kalawakan,” a children’s book on UN Space Treaties.
The Agency’s administrative build-up and organizational progress were also presented. The report included updates on the onboarding of personnel, the FY 2023-2024 budget levels and the Philippine Space Development Fund (PSDF), the lease agreement with the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) for the official site of PhilSA in New Clark City, and the implementation of the Magna Carta benefits for qualified employees.
Matters arising from past council meetings
Matters arising from the 6th PSC meeting conducted last 19 December 2022 were also discussed. This included the Presidential Directive No. PBBM-2022-165-166 issued by the Office of the President regarding the development and utilization of space S&T in the country. The directive provides that: (1) PhilSA, in coordination with DFA, to maximize partnerships with other countries in the development of new and innovative space technologies; and (2) PhilSA, DOST, DICT, and other concerned agencies to develop a system to ensure that government agencies can access and utilize relevant and comprehensible satellite data.
DG Marciano explained that PhilSA, in compliance with the directive, is operationalizing various international and local agreements that create opportunities to develop, operationalize and proliferate current and emerging space technologies, tools and data for the country’s benefit. This includes, among others, the signing of the Copernicus Administrative Arrangement (CAA) with the European Commission (EC) and the Copernicus Technical Operating Agreement (CTOA) with the European Space Agency (ESA) that facilitates the establishment of the Copernicus Mirror Site and data center in the Philippines under the National Copernicus Capacity Support Action Programme for the Philippines (CopPhil). Mechanisms to disseminate space and other geospatial data to its stakeholders, such as the PhilSA Space Data Dashboard that is continuously being enhanced to enable the public to access space and geospatial data and information for various applications, through projects like PINAS and Mobilizing Space Data are also utilized.
PhilSA also entered seven (7) data sharing agreements with the following agencies: DENR, Department of Budget and Management, Mindanao Development Authority (Minda), DA-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Land Bank of the Philippines, DOST-Advanced Science and Technology Institute, Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), and European Commission.
DG Marciano also reported on the partnership forged with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) for the implementation of the PAPGAPI-PAN Project– an international cooperation initiative on air quality monitoring using satellite remote sensing and ground measurements with support from the Republic of Korea.
Other updates to the Space Council
PhilSA also reported that it will host the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS) Technical Commission V Symposium in 2024 in Manila with the theme, “Insight to Foresight via Geospatial Technologies”. In addition, the Agency announced its successful bid to host the 31st session of the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF-31) in 2025 The important annual regional space forum, organized by JAXA and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) of Japan, attracts delegates from national space agencies, industry players, non-governmental organizations, and academia to discuss national and regional space issues ranging from capability enhancement, exploration and frontier activities, industry development, education, policy, and applications for societal benefit. This will only be the second time that the Philippines will be hosting the APRSAF over its 30-year history.