Servando quits as PAGASA chief

Rappler.com
His resignation comes amid budget woes and Congress' failure to pass the modernization bill for the weather bureau

In this file photo, PAGASA Administrator Dr. Nathaniel Servando (L) gives President Benigno Aquino III a tour of the facilities of the PAGASA radar station in Bato, Catanduanes, during the station's inauguration May 2, 2012. Behind Aquino is Science Sec Mario Montejo. Photo courtesy of the Malacañang Photo Bureau

MANILA, Philippines – Nathaniel Servando has stepped down as the administrator of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the bureau’s officer-in-charge said Wednesday, June 19.

PAGASA OIC Vicente Malano, in a press conference, said Servando has submitted his resignation letter to Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo.

Malacañang officials also confirmed the news, and thanked the outgoing weather chief for his services to the bureau and the country.

“We respect Dir. Servando’s decision to pursue an alternative career path. We thank him for his long years of dedicated public service,” Sec Herminio Coloma of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) said.

“We thank him for service to the country and wish him well in his future endeavors,” Sec Ricky Carandang of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) said.

Servando first filed a leave “for health reasons” from March to May, then asked for an extension until August. Reports said the country’s chief meteorologist landed a lucrative teaching job in Qatar.

Malano also said the former PAGASA chief sent him a message thanking everyone in the bureau.

Servando has been with the bureau since 1990, starting as a weather specialist.

He is the latest PAGASA official to have left the agency in the past few years.

Among them are Nathaniel Cruz, former weather division chief, who is now a meteorologist for GMA Network; Graciano Yumul, former science undersecretary and concurrent bureau chief, who is now in the private sector; and Prisco Nilo, who was removed from his post for failing to properly predict the path of Typhoon Basyang (international codename Conson).

Shortage of personnel

The state weather bureau has been in the spotlight recently because of its employees’ woes over salaries and benefits. It is also reportedly facing a shortage of qualified weather personnel.

The most recent roadblock for the agency came after the Senate failed to pass the PAGASA modernization bill, which would have allowed for significant increases in the office’s budget for salaries, new equipment, and operations.

Cibac Rep Sherwin Tugna, meanwhile, said the review of the budget of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) – and for the state weather bureau in particular – should be a priority in the next Congress.

Tugna also said the administration should “double its efforts in investing in the sciences,” saying the limited funding for the science department is stifling scientists’ work that could help the country.

The Department of Budget and Management has yet to finalize the budgets of the agencies. Congress is scheduled to start deliberations on the 2014 General Appropriations Act in August.

For 2013, the Department of Science and Technology had a budget of P9.91 billion. P1.43 billion went to PAGASA, an attached agency. – Rappler.com