THE weather bureau can purchase state-of-the-art equipment and hire more personnel, now that its budget for 2015 has been dramatically increased, Malacañang said on Saturday.
From P396.5 million last year, the budget this year for the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) is P3.46 billion, up by 525 percent, according to Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte.
Valte made the announcement to counter renewed criticisms against the government for its alleged failure to issue adequate warnings when Tropical Depression Seniang (international codename: Jangmi) bore down on the Visayas and Mindanao. At least 54 people were killed by floods and landslides triggered by the storm.
“Pagasa’s budget for 2015 is P3.46 billon or 526.5 percent higher than last year’s P396.5 million and a huge part of that is for the purchase of Pagasa’s state-of-the art weather monitoring equipment. As for the budget for personnel services, the 2015 budget is at P434.4 million which is again higher than P352 million last year,” Valte said in an interview aired over Radyo ng Bayan.
“These developments show the willingness on our part to sit down and talk to our weather forecasters. We continue to invest in mechanisms that will help them make better tracks or make better predictions. Project NOAH [Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards] is also expanding, and you can see it in our hazard mapping,” Valte added.
Aside from upgrading Pagasa, Valte noted that the government has also invested in improving the capabilities of rescuers and responders.
“We continue to invest in the capacity for them to be able to do more,” she said.