Senator Loren Legarda expressed dismay at the delay in the release of benefits of personnel of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration or PAGASA, noting that they play a major role in disaster risk reduction (DRR) efforts in the country.
“PAGASA is the people’s partner in disaster prevention. They are already underpaid compared to their counterparts in other countries, and now even their benefits are being delayed. If we endeavor to become a disaster resilient country, our frontliners should be receiving the right compensation for the often extreme demands of their job. If we deprive them of their benefits, how are we going to convince other bright Filipino meteorologists to serve the people through the government?” she said.
Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, emphasized that the Magna Carta for Scientists or Republic Act 8439 clearly provides that PAGASA weather forecasters are entitled to hazard allowances from 10 to 30 percent of their monthly basic salary.
“It is imperative that PAGASA personnel receive their due benefits. A big part of disaster risk reduction is getting the accurate and timely information. Our government must invest in PAGASA, but we are not just speaking of the technology. We must invest in the people who have the special skills, training, and hard-earned knowledge to give us the right weather and risk information,” Legarda stressed.
Legarda noted that after the lunch time protest of the PAGASA forecasters, hydrologists, and employees, they were eventually assured by President Aquino that they will receive their benefits for the first semester.