Brain drain hits Pagasa

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Brain drain is slowly decimating the country’s weather forecasters who are lured by the stratospheric salaries offered them abroad.

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On Sunday, three key staff of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) flew to Qatar for the proverbial greener pasture.

Mon Agustin, president of the Philippine Weathermen Employees Association of the state weather bureau, confirmed that three of their members have opted to join the Qatar Airport Metereological Services.

“Hindi naman natin sila pwede pigilan sa paghahanap ng magandang ikabubuhay [We cannot stop them from looking for better livelihood],” Agustin told The Manila Times.

During the last 10 years, around 25 personnel of the weather bureau had migrated and opted to work abroad, including Dr. Nathaniel Sevando, former Pagasa administrator, who chose to teach at a university in Qatar.

Salaries offered to these colleagues, Agustin said, were five to ten times higher than what they were earning at Pagasa.

The entry-level pay at the weather bureau, according to him, is P20,000, while it ranges from P150,000 to P200,000 in other countries.

Agustin said the three Pagasa personnel who flew to Qatar are forecasters Bernie de Leon and Ralph Ricajuerta and communications engineer Ralph Soquila.

While there will be replacements for the three, Agustin noted it would take time for them to gain the expertise and experience of those who have opted to work overseas.

“Before, one (personnel) would leave at a time. Now they leave in threes,” Agustin said of the increasing number of his colleagues who are packing up.

He noted that the promised upgrade of Pagasa will take time partly because congressional approval is required for it to take off.

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