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Duterte signs law creating PHL space agency

President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law creating the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA).

Signed on August 8, Republic Act 11363 calls for a Philippine Space Development and Utilization Policy which will serve as the country’s strategic roadmap for space development and will embody the country’s goal of becoming a space-capable and space-faring nation in the next 10 years.

The law provides that the space policy will focus on national security and development; hazard management and climate studies; space research and development; space industry capacity building; space education and awareness; and international cooperation.

An initial P1 billion in funding for the PhilSA will be taken from the current fiscal year's appropriation of the Office of the President. The amount for the subsequent operation and maintenance of the PhilSA will be included in the General Appropriations Act.

Additional funding for capital outlay amounting to P10 billion will come from the gross income of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) for five years after the effectivity of the law, with P2 billion to be released to PhilSA yearly.

PhilSA may also derive income on its specialized products, services, and royalties as well as accept funding from loans, contributions, grants, bequests, gifts, donations from foreign governments provided that such will be approved by the President upon the recommendation of the PhilSA director general.

The PhilSA will be an attached agency of the OP.

The new law also establishes the Philippine Space Council, which will serve as the principal advisory body for the coordination and integration of policies, programs and resources affecting space science and technology applications. It will be chaired by the President of the Philippines.

PhilSA’s office and its research facilities will be housed in at least 30 hectares of land under the administration of the BCDA within the Clark Special Economic Zone in Pampanga and Tarlac. Additional areas for research and launch sites will also be developed in the future.

The Philippines has been involved in space technology since the 1960s when the government built a satellite receiving station during the Marcos era. In the 1970s, the country also ventured on its first rocket development program.

In 1996, a Filipino private firm, Mabuhay Satellite Corporation, acquired the country's first in-orbit satellite, Agila-1 which was formerly owned by an Indonesian company. In 1997, the company had its own telecommunications satellites, Agila 2, which was launched to space from China. (Agila 2 was developed by a US company but was launched from China).

In 2014, the Philippine government partnered with universities in Japan to launch the first microsatellite developed by Filipinos, Diwata-1. The government was able to develop and send two more satellites, Diwata-2 microsatellite and Maya-1 cube satellite in 2018. — BM, GMA News