The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) and the Department of National Defense (DND) has inked an agreement to enhance national security and development efforts through Space Science and Technology Applications (SSTA). PhilSA Director General Dr. Joel Joseph S. Marciano, Jr., and Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana formalized the partnership between PhilSA and DND through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). PhilSA Deputy Director General for Space Science and Technology Dr. Gay Jane P. Perez and Defense Undersecretary Cesar B. Yano witnessed the signing of the agreement.

Under the MOU, PhilSA and DND will collaborate on the following areas: (1) sharing of know-how on space science and technology applications (SSTA) and other related information; (2) capacity building and joint training on the application of satellite-based technologies including remote sensing, geographic information systems, artificial intelligence, and satellite communications; (3) research & development (R&D) activities, conditional exchange and/or co-location of experts and personnel, and; (4) organizing public conferences, symposia, workshops, and events.

The MOU supports the mandate of PhilSA under RA 11363 or the Philippine Space Act to implement activities related to National Security and Development – one of the six Key Development Areas in the government’s SSTA development policy. “Our partnership entails the implementation and advancement of space capabilities and applications that preserve and enhance the country’s national security and promote development that is beneficial to all Filipinos,” Director General Marciano said. “The PhilSA assures the DND of active engagement in its defense modernization drive through exchange of information, research and development collaboration, training, and other capacity building in space-enabled applications,” he added.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana expressed confidence that with PhilSA leading the country in SSTA, the Philippine defense and security sector will be able to “reach new heights in research and development.” In a statement, Secretary Lorenzana said: “The MOU between the Department of National Defense and the Philippine Space Agency recognizes that the mandates of our two agencies go hand in hand, with science and technology playing a crucial part in developing our capabilities to better protect our country.” He added: “With this partnership, it is hoped that we will be able to discover a new range of opportunities to develop and enhance our national security and defense systems as our agencies jointly explore the development, application and utilization of our nation’s space capabilities.”

The defense chief and vice chairperson of the Philippine Space Council has also assured that through their modernization program, the defense department and the security sector “continuously strive to improve and adapt to the fast evolving military technologies.”

Even before the signing of the MOU, PhilSA has been working closely with the defense and security sector. PhilSA collaborates with different units of the AFP in satellite data product development for maritime domain awareness, area surveillance and monitoring, and other satellite applications for defense & security. PhilSA also conducts capacity-building activities such as the training series with the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Air Force on the use of satellite images and Artificial Intelligence (AI) for automated object detection. The DND has also been working with PhilSA’s in the 2021-2030 Decadal Survey in order to identify, consolidate, and prioritize key challenges in security and defense in the coming decade that could be addressed using space technologies and solutions. 

Earlier this year, the PhilSA signed an MOU with the National Coast Watch Center (NCWC) to boost maritime security through space-enabled technologies. With these engagements, PhilSA is committed to utilizing SSTA in support of safeguarding Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity.

PhilSA and DND are part of the Philippine Space Council (PSC), which is the principal advisory body for the coordination and integration of policies, programs and resources involving SSTA. The Secretary of National Defense is a vice chair of the PSC while the PhilSA Director General is the PSC head secretariat.

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