Senate bill seen to stop exodus of weather forecasters

By , on June 3, 2014

A weather forecaster shows the location of super typhoon 'Haiyan' at the PAGASA office in Quezon City. Asti Flores / GMA News
A weather forecaster shows the location of super typhoon ‘Haiyan’ at the PAGASA office in Quezon City. Asti Flores / GMA News

MANILA – A Senate bill increasing the mandated hazard allowance of state scientists and other science and technology experts from 10 to maximum 30 percent are seen to stop seasoned weather forecasters from leaving the country in favor of high-paying jobs abroad.

Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, chairman of the Senate committee on science and technology, on Tuesday said the officials from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) are in full support of Senate Bill No. 1358 or Hazard Allowance for all S&T Personnel in the Government.

”We will put 30 percent in the budget and will remove from 10 to 30 percent,” Recto said in a media interview after the Senate hearing on the bill and eight other separate measures on the PAGASA Modernization Act.

During the hearing, PAGASA officer-in-charge Administrator Vicente Malano informed the committee that a total of 33 PAGASA personnel, including 28 forecasters, have gone abroad in favor of higher paying jobs.

”It is because of the temptation being offered by companies in other countries. We cannot blame our S&T personnel because of the need to support their family,” Malano said.

Malano noted that it was only in 2010 when the PAGASA personnel started to receive their hazard and longevity pays as provided by Republic Act No. 8439 or Magna Carta for Scientists, Engineers, Researchers and other S&T personnel.

”We have not received benefits from 1998 to 2009. It (law) was funded only in 2010 but the problem was the delay in giving out the pay,” Malano said.

Malano told Recto that the delay has something to do with the “too many” requirements from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

”I think the delay is caused by many factors. One is there was discretion in the present law (R.A. 8439) from 10 to 30 percent. There is a bureaucratic involved and that’s why our bill seeks to address this issue as well,” Recto explained to the media.

On the other hand, DOST Assistant Secretary Oswaldo Santos said they are supporting the PAGASA modernization bill under eight Senate bills and House Bill 4837.

”We would extend all the supports and cooperation in any discussion and deliberation of this bill,” Santos said.

The PAGASA modernization bill aims to upgrade the weather forecast equipment and to hire additional 150 personnel to its current over 800 personnel workforce.

Ramon Agustin, president of the Philippine Weather Employees Association (PWEYA), welcomed the two proposed laws.

”We feel alarmed by the exodus of our seasoned weather forecasters. Hopefully, these bills will finally solve this problem,” Agustin said.

Recto said the DBM has assured that there is available budget to give the 30 percent hazard pay for the PAGASA personnel.