Keep them here
Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
Ramon Agustin, president of the Philippine Weathermen Association, said many employees of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration are considering early retirement or seeking job opportunities overseas after the General Appropriations Act of 2012 suspended the Magna Carta benefits since March of this year. Under Republic Act 8439, the Magna Carta for scientists, engineers, researchers and other science and technology personnel in government are supposed to get additional benefits.
According to deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte, these benefits, which include hazard and longevity pay, were temporarily suspended due to a recent fund shortage. She adds that the Department of Budget and Management has been trying to address the issue and that members of the union in PAGASA have assured the Department of Science and Technology they have no plan to hold a strike or leave the agency.
PAGASA has recently been upgrading its equipment, including the recent installation of a state of the art P530-million Doppler radar in Virac, Catanduanes, with plans to set up two more: in Aparri, Cagayan this year and in Guiuan, Eastern Samar next year. With six other existing radars and 150 automatic weather stations nationwide and real-time satellite data from Japan, United States and China, PAGASA is supposed to have significantly improved its weather forecasting capabilities.
All these upgrades would be for naught if the weather agency were to lose key personnel because some bureaucrat forgot to allocate funds for the weathermen and scientists that operate the equipment and provide the weather forecasts that are supposed to be more timely and accurate to a country that desperately needs it.
Where is smoke, there is usually fire and the administration needs to take heed of the grumblings coming from the PWEA. If the weathermen have not received their benefits since March, no excuse from the government can stop them from leaving PAGASA or the country if they receive a better opportunity or offer elsewhere, especially if their families are going hungry. Assurances from a deputy presidential spokesperson won’t cut it. What they need is for the DBM, an agency that has found funds for unnecessary road repairs, to find funds for the benefits that this government owes the weathermen so they do not go on an exodus that might cost this country even more when typhoons come and nobody is around to give us the information we need so we can safely weather the storms.*