Top executives of SpaceX, a space exploration company owned by tech magnate and billionaire Elon Musk, have met with Senators Manny Pacquiao and Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, to discuss the use of low orbit satellites.
Pacquiao, who is seeking the presidency under PROMDI in the 2022 elections, said this would provide cheap internet to the country.
He said it is also likely to establish a spaceship launchpad in the Philippines.
In the same meeting held via zoom last January 15, Rebecca Hunter, head of Space X Government Relations invited Pacquiao to visit the US to meet with the key leaders of one of the world’s biggest private aerospace companies.
He said they will also see how else they can work together in achieving his goals of uplifting the lives of poor Filipinos.
“Sen. Pacquiao, when will you be in the US to visit us?” Hunter told Pacquiao who also brought up exploring other areas of cooperation with Elon Musk’s sister companies, Tesla and the Boring Company.
In the same meeting, Pacquiao raised the possibility of using Tesla batteries for the jeepney modernization and the creation of a massive subway system using the Boring Company to decongest Metro Manila and other urban cities in the country.
Pacquiao cited the need for the Philippines to finally have its own communications satellite especially now that Filipinos rely heavily on the internet amid ongoing restrictions on face-to-face classes because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This technology provides various uses such as advancing online learning, e-government services, and disaster relief and coordination, as well as linking our OFWs to their loved ones. Our future needs this technology,” related Pacquiao.
Pacquiao told the Space X executives to also consider the possibility of establishing a launchpad in the Philippines especially in Mindanao as this would not only put the Philippines on the map of space exploration. He said this would also generate thousands of jobs for Filipino scientists, engineers, and laborers.
The launchpad, Pacquiao said, will not only cater to their Asian clients but would also enable the Philippines to launch its own satellites that can be used for communications, weather monitoring, topography mapping, environment protection, and research among others.
Pimentel noted Mindanao is an ideal location for a spaceship launch pad because it is near the equator.
“I heard that the ideal location for launchpad should be near the equator. Sen. Pacquiao’s province of Sarangani is very near the equator and could be an ideal location, “Pimentel added.
Pacquiao said that the presence of the SpaceX launchpad in the Philippines “will put the Philippines alongside other first-world nations in the next frontier which is Space.”
“The involvement of SpaceX in our country will not only bring in investments and jobs but will also put us at the forefront of space science. Nakaka-excite ang possibility na ito at kung ano magagawa nito para sa bansa natin,” Pacquiao said.
On the other hand, believing that education is a great equalizer between the rich and the poor, Pacquiao has vowed to pursue a “one student, one gadget” program to create equal opportunities for poor students.
These students, he said, can hardly keep up with the demands of the “new normal” in the country’s educational system.
Pacquiao also raised the need to attune the country’s educational system to the possibility of prolonged restrictions for face-to-face classes and urged the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to create long-term plans on the use of modular and digital platforms as the mode of instructions.
And to ensure that even the poor can have equal access to education, Pacquiao said the government must ensure that they are not left behind by providing them the assistance that they sorely need.
Pacquiao said that a very important component for the poor to be able to cope up with the demands of the “new normal” is the gadgets for online classes.
The world’s only eight-division boxing champion said he is determined to provide poor Filipinos all the support they need to get an education because he knows the difficulty of getting an education if you were dirt poor like he was growing up.
Pacquiao said that he was forced to quit school and train as boxer because of extreme poverty.
“I think that we have to be ready for prolonged limited face-to-face classes.”
“We will provide every student their own devices to use for online classes. If possible, we will also look into providing free internet connectivity to marginalized communities for online learning.”
He said it is not impossible if the gadgets will be diverted by from government corruption, estimated at PHP700 billion to PHP1 trillion a year. Money can also come from savings generated by trimming the fat off bureaucracy and from intelligence and confidential funds.
Also, Pacquiao said that he would also push for Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) with telecommunications companies to expand and improve the country’s internet system.
He said that this PPP program can include future projects by the newly created Philippine Space Agency that would allow the country to launch its own communications satellite.
Currently, the Philippines only has its own microsatellites that were designed only for research and weather monitoring.