3 PAGASA employees quit to become OFWs

Posted at 05/20/2014 5:33 PM | Updated as of 05/21/2014 3:47 PM

MANILA - Three more employees of state weather bureau PAGASA have decided to leave the agency to seek better opportunities abroad.

According to Philippine Weathermen Employees Association (PWEA) President Ramon Agustin, weather forecasters Bernie De Leon and Ralph Ricahuerta, and communications engineer Ralph Suquila resigned last Sunday to work at the Qatar Bureau of Meteorology.

Agustin said De Leon and Ricahuerta will work as airport forecasters while Suquila will serve as a communications specialist.

He said the three expressed desire to quit their posts as early as last year, but decided to forego their plans after PAGASA promised them they will already be given their benefits.

But six months have passed, and they have still yet to receive their hazard pay.

Their longevity pay and subsistence allowance, meanwhile, are also expected to be given only in June.

According to Agustin, the three employees are a huge loss to PAGASA.

He said De Leon was the pioneer of the rainfall warning system while Ricahuerta, who was assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), was an expert in aviation meteorology.

Suquila was the one who handled the Doppler radar system and MET satellite system, he said.

Agustin said four more weathermen are being offered jobs in the Middle East but have so far refused to take the offers.

PAGASA has been beset by resignations as weather forecasters complain of small salaries as well as delayed release of benefits and allowances.

In the past 10 years, Agustin said over 20 veteran weather forecasters have left the agency and decided to work either in the Middle East or Australia where they are offered higher salaries.

Nathaniel Servando, PAGASA's former administrator, also quit his job in June last year.

PAGASA employees are now hoping for the passage of Senate Bill 1358 or the Act prescribing the hazard allowance of 30 percent of the monthly basic salary for all science and technology personnel in the government.

They believe the passage of the bill will help prevent the "brain drain" of science and technology professionals in the country. -- Reports from Zhander Cayabyab, dzMM; Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News