PhilSA, DOST prepare satellites to monitor El Niño

Rainier Allan Ronda - The Philippine Star
PhilSA, DOST prepare satellites to monitor El Niño
A resident walks on a dried up fish pond in Candaba town, Pampanga.
Ernie Penaredondo

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) are preparing to mobilize their space and satellite technology capabilities and assets in an effort to monitor the expected onset of the El Niño phenomenon in the country this year.

Joel Joseph Marciano Jr., PhilSA director general, said the preparations will also include the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture and other agencies, and also leverage on the partnerships forged by the PhilSA and DOST with other international space agencies and multilateral organizations.

“We want to monitor the data for the El Niño phenomenon that we might be encountering this year. So that, I think, is a concern that we have to address in terms of mobilizing space data and capabilities as well together with the DOST and various groups, the DENR, the Department of Agriculture,” Marciano said at a press briefing yesterday for the PhilSA, DOST and European Union’s launch of the National Copernicus Capacity Support Action Programme for the Philippines at the Hotel Hilton Manila in Pasay City.

“Teams are working together as we speak,” Marciano said.

Science Secretary Renato Solidum Jr. said the Earth observation activities using the country’s Diwata-2 microsatellite and the satellite images provided by other space agencies were crucial to assess the impact on the country’s agricultural productivity and food security.

“Inflation is related to the cost of rice, yellow corn, sugar and dairy ... Essentially, we need to monitor the production and also the effects of natural hazards like during the past typhoons, strong winds, floods and El Niño or La Niña,” Solidum said.

“So all of these now can be further utilized and we can now see the very important relationship between monitoring and economy,” he added.


The Copernicus Capacity Support Action Program for the Philippines or CopPhil is a three-year partnership with the European Union on space-based technologies to develop the country’s climate change adaptation and disaster resilience capabilities.

The CopPhil project is seen to be worth 10 million euros or P610 million.

Under CopPhil, the PhilSA and DOST, alongside the EU, will join forces to enable the Philippines to develop national systems that make use of the EU’s earth observation satellite data to pursue initiatives on disaster mitigation, climate change adaptation and food security strategies.

“The Copernicus program for the Philippines is a pioneer initiative in Asia and Asia Pacific and a starting point for a larger program on Digital Connectivity. The program will enhance capacities for a stronger and more shock-resilient Filipino economy and society,” EU Ambassador Luc Véron said.

“In the long term the European Union is exploring the possibility to create a network of Copernicus partners in the ASEAN region, aside from other parts of the world. The uptake of innovative technologies such as Copernicus will trigger growth, jobs and modernization of digital infrastructures that can be used in many sectors in the Philippines,” he added.

The EU’s Earth observation flagship program, Copernicus provides free environment and climate data derived from a constellation of satellites – the Sentinels – which monitor the Earth and its many ecosystems round the clock. This free information aims to help public authorities, businesses and international organizations mitigate climate change impacts and build a sustainable future for all.

In the Philippines, Copernicus’ satellite images have helped authorities monitor the situation of remote communities in the aftermath of typhoons such as Odette or accidents like the M/T Princess Empress oil spill in Mindoro to help authorities plan their disaster preparedness and mitigation programs.

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