Taiwan donates U.S.$170,000 to Pagasa

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — PHILIPPINE and Taiwanese officials yesterday welcomed the completion of the repair and upgrading of the high-altitude weather observation station of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) in Tanay, Rizal, via a $170,000 grant from Taiwan’s National Science Council (NSC).

“The grant was one of the key items in the 2007 work program under our science and technology cooperation agreement with Taiwan,” Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) Managing Director and Resident Representative Antonio Basilio said.

The Tanay Upper Air Station is very crucial in measuring meteorological parameters associated with weather systems, including tropical cyclones affecting Metro Manila, in particular, and the whole of Luzon in general. The upgrading of the upper facilities in Tanay is also very important for Taiwan in monitoring tropical activities and other weather systems that commonly affect both the Philippines and Taiwan due to their geographical proximities.

Inauguration rites for the rehabilitated Tanay Upper Air Station project in Sitio Mayagay, Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal, were held last April 24 with Secretary Estrella Alabastro of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Minister Chien-Jen Chen of the Taiwan NSC, Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) Representative Dr. Hsin-Hsing Wu, Basilio, PAGASA Director Dr. Prisco Nilo and DOST Assistant Secretary Dr. Carol Yorobe.

The NSC offered to fund cooperation projects for the repair and rehabilitation of the Tanay Upper Air Station (Tanay Project) and the Research and Development of Rainfall Multi-Data Source Analysis Techniques (Rainfall Project). This was made more urgent by the past tragedies from typhoons and floodings which highlighted the need to upgrade the country’s meteorological and hydrological services.

The NSC turned over a donation of U.S.$170,000 for the DOST-PAGASA project in November last year, of which $106,000 was for the Tanay Project and $64,000 for the Rainfall Project. The funding support was intended for equipment acquisition.

“In addition to helping PAGASA modernize its facilities, Taiwan will also be working with the Philippine weather bureau on the development of a real-time data generation and typhoon monitoring system, and in the training of Filipino scientists and weather bureau personnel,” said Basilio.

According to Taiwan’s Central News Agency, the U.S.$170,000 grant was used to help the Philippines carry out its weather hazard prevention and rainfall analysis technology research programs.

The weather hazard prevention research work is aimed at modernizing the equipment of the Philippines’ high-altitude weather observation stations to better collect research data about the formation of typhoons. The rainfall analysis technology research program will improve the Philippines’ rainfall observation network and rainfall analysis capability via the upgraded weather observation stations and thus contribute to more precise weather forecasts and timely disaster prevention, according to the CNA.

A portion of the fund was also used to repair monitoring stations destroyed by Typhoon Reming in late 2006, said Roque Mamon, who oversees MECO’s special government projects section.

Under the cooperation project, the Philippines will share with Taiwan the collected information about the formation and movement of typhoons to help Taiwan with disaster prevention efforts as many typhoons that strike Taiwan originate in waters off the Philippines.

The science and technology departments of Taiwan and the Philippines also agreed to cooperate on a number of projects this year from marine technology and biodiversity studies to earthquake research.

Alabastro said the Tanay Project would not have been possible without the generous support of the government of Taiwan, through the NSC and TECO, and with the assistance of MECO. She said the DOST fully endorses PAGASA’s upgrading programs and is committed to protect the people’s well-being through effective weather forecasting and warning services.