MANILA -- President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III ordered Friday the relief of Prisco Nilo as administrator of Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).

Aquino decided to sack Nilo due to inaccurate predictions of typhoon, particularly during the onslaught of Typhoon Basyang (international codename: Conson).

The President was dismayed that the state weather bureau failed to explain why the typhoon hit Metro Manila without issuing any warning.

Aquino announced his decision during a dialogue with the media Friday.

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"There will be a new Pagasa head. DOST (Department of Science and Technology) will announce it. He will come from the CESO (career executive service officer) pool. An undersecretary will be designated in an acting capacity," he said.

Replacement in three months

The person to replace Nilo as Pagasa chief will be named in three months.

In an interview with Sun.Star, Department of Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo said they already have the "names" of those who may possibly replace Nilo in the state weather bureau.

"We already have the names and we are looking at people who have already with Pagasa and even outsiders. In the next three months, we will know his replacement," he said.

Montejo also confirmed to Sun.Star that DOST Undersecretary for research and development Graciano Yumul will temporarily take over the helm.

"Nilo was replaced effective today (Friday)," he said.

Yumul, one of the recipients of the 1996 Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) for Geological Science, holds doctorate and master degrees in geology from Tokyo University in Japan. He finished his undergraduate degree in geology in 1980 at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.

Montejo said Nilo was "relieved" from his post so that he could concentrate in conducting some special studies. He will be assigned back to DOST main office for other works, he added.

Removal questioned

But the Agham Party-list immediately questioned the removal of Nilo, saying replacing the official is not a remedy for Pagasa to become accurate in its forecast with the limited resources of weather systems.

Agham Party-list Representative Angelo Palmones appealed to the President to reconsider his decision, citing the sacrifices of Nilo and other staff at Pagasa in times of typhoon.

"The real problem of Pagasa is their equipment and not its weather forecasters," Palmones said in a radio interview.

He pointed out that the government has also accountability in poor weather prediction as the weather bureau has been neglected when it comes to modernization of its systems.

The militant lawmaker added that despite opportunities from other weather offices abroad, Nilo and remaining experts in Pagasa opted to stay in the country despite low compensation.

"I am appealing to the President to reconsider his decision to relieve Prisco Nilo as the head of Pagasa. There might an insufficiency in his qualification because his Ceso has not yet confirmed. But I hope, the executive department could see how dedicated the employees of Pagasa, particularly Nilo, especially when there is typhoon," Palmones said.

Palmones hoped that the removal of Nilo would not send a wrong signal to other remaining scientists in the country. (Jill Beltran/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)