Remote Sensing Technology in National Issues

One of the problems usually faced by the country are natural disasters. There are relatively no problems with regards to the scientific aspect of disaster response and monitoring. Most of the problems come down due to economic or political reasons. There has been little funding given to the Department of Science and Technology and its bureaus. In 2019, DOST saw its 2020 budget cut by P79.85 million. Just late in September of this year, the Congress slashed the budget of PHIVOLCS by about P133 million leaving the bureau with no other option but to either cut down on research and maintenance, lay off employees, or both. It is due to these reasons that some public institutions choose to establish their own groups owned and managed by private individuals but are established under the said public institution to bypass government red tape (e.g. UP LIPAD, Philippine National Oil Company, Rushurgent Working Group). The amount of scientific research or technological development in the field of remote sensing does not matter in the face of politics. 

Setting politics aside, perhaps the most noticeable problem would be provincial or municipal boundaries that are not demarcated properly on a national level. While NAMRIA acts as a centralized mapping agency, most local governments use their own system or even employ individuals from private companies as subcontractors. As such, this has caused untold amounts of inconvenience and local disputes regarding land use and the jurisdiction of privately-owned land. Additionally, most, if not all municipalities still greatly rely on field surveying and enumeration which could be easily manipulated making an already problematic situation even more so. In this regard, the use of remote sensing on a local scale should be considered to have a better view of the area and map even rural areas otherwise unreachable by conventional means. The adoption of a nationalized mapping system should also be considered to properly demarcate boundaries in order to avoid disputes and make it convenient for future land use/land cover studies.

Another issue that could be easily tackled with the use of remote sensing technology is monitoring the destruction of forests brought by illegal logging, mining activities, and slash-and-burn agriculture (kaingin) among others. As most of the archipelago is mountainous, and also infested by communist rebels or hired militias, field studies are difficult to conduct and are dangerous. Having a low-earth orbit satellite that will observe the status of forests on a local scale will be very helpful in monitoring and combating illegal activities that leads to the eventual destruction of nature without any risk or threat to human life. A high resolution LEO satellite that constantly monitors the country will also be helpful for national security. Having a satellite that continuously observes the maritime borders of the country will strengthen the capabilities of the navy in monitoring incoming threats.

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