Philippines can become Southeast Asia’s space tech hub

“We are a little bit behind. But if we do things right, we can take the lead in the Southeast Asian region,” says astrophysicist Dr. Rogel Mari D. Sese.

By Adrian M. Reodique
Nov. 23, 2016

The Philippines has the capability to become Southeast Asia's hub for space technology and space application where engineers, scientists, and industry stakeholders can converge to learn and train.

This is according to astrophysicist Dr. Rogel Mari D. Sese in a report by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), following the press conference for the 23rd Session of the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF-23).

"We're looking toward building our own space industry," said Sese. "We are a little bit behind. But if we do things right, we can take the lead in the Southeast Asian region."

Through space technologies, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña said they aim to make an impact on national security and development, hazard management and climate studies, space industry and capacity building, and education.

In fact, he said the government has earmarked PHP 1 billion for space technology from 2017 to 2018. It also invested around PHP 840 million for the construction of DIWATA 1 - the first microsatellite designed and built by Filipinos - which was deployed into orbit from the International Space Station on 27 April 2016.

He added the initial strategy is to send the scholars abroad to train. However, he noted: "The best strategy is to institute some academic programmes here in the Philippines and that might involve the invitation of some foreign experts to help us initialise some of these programmes. But eventually, we hope that we will be able to train our own."

Meanwhile, Sese - who is also the focal person of the DOST- Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI)'s Philippine Space Science Education Programme - explained that having a space industry in the country will create jobs not only for astrophysicists and engineers, but also for other talents directly involved with space industry like support personnel. 

"It had been stated that we need around 800 aerospace engineers and scientists in the next 10 years. Studies have shown that for every one person that is directly involved in the space field, there are four other people who serve as support personnel," he elaborated.

Some proposals have also been submitted to the congress like the House Bill 3637 and Senate Bill 1211 which both aim to legislate a Philippine Space Development and Utilisation Policy and create a Philippine Space Agency.

"The Philippines is pursuing this space technology development because we are also asking our lawmakers to have a bill approved for the creation of a Philippine space agency and a national space development programme for the next ten years," said APRSAF Co-Chair and DOST Undersecretary Cristina L. Guevara.

"I assure you space technology is very useful for this country," she concluded.