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The Philippines Leverages Space Tech for National Defence

The question is on strengthening national defences is vital. The answers are myriad but one aspect that cannot be overemphasised is the reliance on technology. This is exactly what the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) is looking into with great intent.

Through earth observation satellites, we would have an ‘eye in the sky’ that would get images of different locations while orbiting. (This would enable the country to) observe man-made structures like buildings and streets, the presence of ships, and the natural environment.

 – Joel Marciano Jr., Director, Philippine Space Agency 

What’s more, space technology can address society’s economic woes better. By using communication satellites, the unserved and underserved areas in the country could receive pertinent information and services, he detailed.

Space technology boosts the capability to address challenges on environmental protection, territorial integrity, disaster risk reduction and response, livelihood, productivity and resilience, which are all part of strengthening national security and development, Marciano said.

PhilSA inked an agreement with the Department of National Defense (DND) to enhance national security and development efforts through Space Science and Technology Applications (SSTA). As agreed, PhilSA and DND will collaborate on the following areas:

  • Sharing of know-how on SSTA and other related information;
  • Capacity building and joint training on the application of satellite-based technologies including remote sensing, geographic information systems, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and satellite communications;
  • Research & Development (R&D) activities, conditional exchange and/or co-location of experts and personnel; and
  • Organising public conferences, symposia, workshops, and events.

Marciano sees a lot of potential in the agreement. According to him, the partnership between PhilSA and DND will strengthen the information exchange and SSTA capacity building. Likewise, DND will play a huge role in creating a strong and robust local space ecosystem, he added.

Both parties, he said, are hoping to boost R&D collaboration and contribute to the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) modernisation through space innovations. Prior to signing a memorandum of agreement with DND, PhilSA has been working closely with the defence and security sectors.

PhilSA is exerting a lot of effort to protect the country’s sovereignty. To date, the agency collaborates with different units of the AFP in satellite data product development for maritime domain awareness, area surveillance and monitoring, and other satellite applications for defence and security.

Moreover, it has also been training with the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Air Force on the use of satellite images and AI for automated object detection. It also has an MoU with the National Coast Watch Center to boost maritime security through space-enabled technologies.

Indeed, digital transformation plays a central role in the Philippines as a country. As can be gleaned from the SSTA, key technologies in ICT work hand in hand to protect the nation’s sovereignty. Digital adoption can move the needle when it comes to the overall economy. A good example here is the use of Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs) to aid people who have been ravaged by a supertyphoon last December.

Digitalisation is a great enabler. In the backdrop of the pandemic, digital banks made enabled banking to continue – reaching out to what could have been otherwise unreachable, remote places in the archipelago and increasing the overall number of bank accounts in the country faster than any traditional brick-and-mortar bank could ever do, as reported on OpenGov Asia.


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