PAGASA chief sacked

Posted at 08/06/10 3:51 PM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE 2) - Prisco Nilo has been relieved of his post as administrator of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

President Aquino on Friday told the Malacañang reporters that Secretary of Science and Technology Mario Montejo will be the one to name the replacement for Nilo as head of the state weather bureau.

DOST Undersecretary Graciano Yumul, who oversees the weather bureau, has been appointed officer-in-charge of PAGASA.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Nilo will be recalled to the main office of the DOST for special studies.

The former PAGASA administrator had been criticized repeatedly for supposed errors in storm predictions by the agency.

Montejo said the DOST felt Yumul would be able to do a better job at upgrading the capabilities of PAGASA.

"Since 'Basyang' we have been developing a program that would improve the accuracy of forecasting. But this involves multidisciplinary activities, like data processing, automation, and in these kinds of disciplines we are more comfortable with Usec. Yumul to implement it. So that's why we have to relieve first Prisco Nilo, and move him to the main office," he said in an interview on ANC's On The Scene.

He also said that they are also looking for possible candidates who would take over the top post of the weather bureau.

"Eventually we are looking at candidates - one, we are looking inside, and meron din kaming titingnan from the outside," he said.

He also said that Yumul, despite being a geologist, is already a familiar face at the bureau, having been OIC also before Nilo was appointed.

"He was also formerly with PAGASA before. Before Prisco Nilo, he was the acting administrator...so he's familiar with the activities at the PAGASA, and he's familiar with the people at PAGASA," Montejo said.

"As an administrator, he is more qualified. He's not a forecaster, but as an administrator, he is more qualified to implement the upgrading of the weather bureau," he said, adding that the chief of the agency should also be "familiar with the other technical disciplines... not only meteorology."

Wrong warning

Last month, President Aquino criticized PAGASA for not warning the residents of Metro Manila about a strong tropical storm that pummelled the nation's capital.

"This is not acceptable," Aquino told red-faced officials of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) at an emergency meeting of rescue agencies. (Click here for story.)

Many of Metro Manila's 12 million residents went to bed late July 13 having been lulled by forecasters' bulletins that Typhoon Basyang (international codename Conson) would hit the northern provinces instead of Manila.

However, the weather bureau failed to mention that the disturbance had a wide radius of 300 kilometers (185 miles), meaning that although the eye of the typhoon passed north of Manila, the city still suffered from fierce winds. With reports from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News, and ANC