Manila: The Philippine Senate has approved a measure establishing an agency that will chart the country’s strategic roadmap for space development.

The Senate on second reading, has approved Senate Bill No. 1983, otherwise known as an Act Establishing the Philippine Space Development and Utilisation Policy and Creating the Philippine Space Agency.

The measure, which was introduced by Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senators Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV and Loren Legarda, aims to springboard the country into the space age while providing Filipinos with a new perspective and valuable insights on that could help solve some of the country’s biggest challenges.

“Satellites can improve disaster management from providing accurate information that allow early warnings and predicting of disasters to reliable and quick communication during relief and recovery operations,” Aquino said in his sponsorship speech.

Space technology, he also pointed out, could also enhance production and profitability of agriculture due to soil and weather monitoring and assessment. It could help conserve and preserve the environment, improve urban planning, transportation and communication networks.

The measure outlays a P1 billion (Dhs 70,269,375) fund for jump starting the operations and maintenance of the PhilSA.

Succeeding funds amounting to P10 billion Dhs 700 million) will come from government owned and controlled corporations.

Although it is only recently that it has made moves to establish its own space agency, the Philippines has a history of pursuing peaceful use of space technology. Insufficient funding and lack of a centralised agency to manage the space programme has hindered the development of space technology in the country.

In the 1996, a Filipino private firm, Mabuhay Satellite Corporation, acquired the country’s first in-orbit satellite, Agila-1.

In 2014, the Philippine government partnered with universities in Japan to launch the first microsatellite developed by Filipinos, Diwata-1.

Currently, several agencies under the Department of Science and Technology maintain the country’s space programme.

A 30 hectare land in Tarlac will serve as the research centre and launch site for the satellites of the agency.

“A solid space programme can improve disaster management, enhance the lives of Filipino farmers, speed up our internet and telecommunications systems and help us build better, more liveable cities,” Aquino said.

“Let us continue to dream big for our country and let us never tire of finding better solutions for our countrymen,” he added.