Duterte appoints first head of Philippine Space Agency

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 7) — President Rodrigo Duterte now has a Presidential Adviser on Space Matters.

Joel Joseph Marciano, Jr., the acting director of the Department of Science and Technology's Advanced Science and Technology Institute, has been named Director General of the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA).

He was appointed on December 5, 2019, based on the list of presidential appointees released by Malacañang on Tuesday.

Marciano is the first-ever head of the PhilSA, a government body dedicated to the improvement of space science and technology. Duterte signed the law creating this agency under the Office of the President in August 2019.

Under Republic Act No. 11363 or the Philippine Space Act, among the tasks of the Director General is to "advise the President on the promulgation of executive and administrative orders and formulation of regulatory and legislative proposals on matters pertaining to SSTA (Space Science and Technology Applications) development."

Under the law, Marciano has the rank and pay grade of a Cabinet Secretary.

He shall manage the operations of the PhilSA, which will plan programs and craft policies for the Philippines' space development program.

The law has set ₱1 billion as the agency's initial operating fund, taken from the budget of the Office of the President.

The law also mandates at least 30 hectares of land to be used for the office and research facilities of the PhilSA in the Clark Special Economic Zone in Pampanga and Tarlac.

The country's space program will focus on the development of space technologies for use in national security, hazard management and climate studies, space research and development, space industry capacity building, space education and awareness, and international cooperation.

The goal is to make the Philippines a "space-capable and spacefaring nation within the next decade."

Aside from Marciano, Duterte also formalized the appointment of Eduardo del Rosario as Ad Interim Secretary of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development. He also reappointed Manila Times' chairman emeritus and columnist Dante Ang as Special Envoy of the President for International Public Relations.