House passes Pagasa bill on 2nd reading

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Monday, May 26, 2014

THE proposed modernization of the state weather bureau was recently approved on second reading in the House of Representatives.

The House committees on science and technology and appropriations jointly approved and endorsed for plenary passage House Bill 4397, a consolidation of five separate measures, which will spearhead the mandatory upgrade of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).

The measure seeks to upgrade the physical resources and operational techniques of the agency to improve its capability and services in providing timely and accurate weather forecasts and warning.

The bill also intends to raise the research and development capability of the agency and human resources development.

Committee on science and technology chairman Victor Yu said that the measure mandates the increase in the base pay and benefits of the agency’s personnel to encourage them to continue on their jobs and to avert a “brain drain” and encourage a higher level of professionalism and commitment to service.

“Latest reports say that a number of key personnel and forecasters of the agency have tendered their resignations in search of greener pastures abroad,” Yu said.

Key provisions also mandate a human resource development training component that includes a scholarship program for undergraduate and graduate degrees.

These degrees are in meteorology which shall be implemented in coordination with the Department of Science and Technology (Dost), Commission on Higher Education (Ched) and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).

The measure also mandates the Dost, in coordination with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), to develop a new salary scale consistent with Republic Act 8439 (Magna Carta for Scientists, Engineers, Researchers and other Science and Technology personnel in government) with a corresponding increase of the base pay, allowances, and other benefits of the agency subject to the approval of the President.

The bill is expected to hurdle third and final reading this week. (John Carlo Cahinhinan/Sunnex)

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