Engineer of First Philippine Microsatellite DIWATA-1 Resigns, Complains Pressure from DOST

Julian Marvick Fua Oliveros, one of the engineers who worked on the first Philippine microsatellite, DIWATA-1 (PHL-Microsat-1), has resigned from the Philippine Microsatellite program of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). The reason for his resignation was not disclosed, he posted his complaints on Facebook.

According to Philstar, Oliveros submitted his letter of resignation this Sunday, April 3, 2016. And although the reason for his resignation was not disclosed, his Facebook post this Tuesday explained his sentiments against the DOST. As we all know, DIWATA-1 was launched to the International Space Station (ISS) last March 23.

But this Friday, April 1, Juan Paolo Espiritu, another DIWATA-1 engineer, revealed the pressure they received from the DOST, noting that despite the fact that it made history for Filipinos, there is a sad story behind its success. He said the project was completed in just a year, although most microsatellites are developed within 4-5 years.

“It all started in 2014, when we were invited to work on the project. We have just finished our engineering degrees then, and naturally we were all excited to build the Philippines’ first microsatellite….According to the contract, we are to build the satellite without pay, with 4 years of return service. On paper, we were just students. On paper, we weren’t part of the project. On paper, we were not engineers.” Espiritu wrote.

“We directed our concerns to DOST to correct the misunderstanding… In the meeting, we completely expressed our concerns, with expectations that the contract be revised accordingly….Now, it is 2016. The microsatellite is in space. Still, empty promises and imaginary contracts. Still, we are merely students.” The Filipino engineer added.

On the other hand, Oliveros, a UP Diliman Electronics and Communications Engineering (ECE) magna cum laude graduate, said that project started without even being approved, noting that they were were led to sign contracts where the terms are unfavorable to them. And just like Espiritu said, the DIWATA-1 was done in a rush.

Diwata engineer Julian Oliveros

Julian Marvick Fua Oliveros, DIWATA-1 launch; Credit: CNN Philippines/NASA

“Why do you think it should be 1 year, given that the scientists discouraged it and originally offered it as a 3-year project? Use your heads PEOPLE! Ano ang masasacrifice pag hindi ginawang 1 year ang Diwata1? Isip isip. Is it our degrees?” Julian Oliveros wrote on the last part of his lengthy Facebook post this Tuesday, April 5.

Below is the full content of this post:

CANNOT ENDURE THIS ANYMORE. It is one thing to defend yourselves and another thing to crush an innocent man, my friend, and teammate Paolo Espiritu. This has got to stop. It’s simply too much.

The project started without even being approved. By manipulative timing we were led to sign contracts unfavourable to us. AT ONE POINT WE TRIED BACKING OUT THREE TIMES, YET THEY ALL CAME BACK TO US WITH PROMISES OF A BETTER CONTRACT THAT WAS NEVER DONE. IN GOOD FAITH, INNOCENT AS WE WERE, WE SIGNED THE CONTRACTS, HAVING COMPLETE TRUST ON THEM AND LOOKED UP TO THEM WITH RESPECT. WE TALKED ABOUT THIS MAGIC-BORROWING OF FUNDS FROM ANOTHER PROJECT DURING THE MEETING LAST APRIL 01 AGAIN AND THEY ACKNOWLEDGED ITS UNFAIRNESS BUT THEY SAID THEY CANNOT REMEDY IT. WHY??????
TO FINISH the Diwata1 project was EXTREMELY DIFFICULT AND BACK-BREAKING BECAUSE WE HAD TO DELIVER IT IN JUST 1 YEAR WHEN ORDINARILY IT SHOULD TAKE 3 YEARS AT LEAST TO COMPLETE. NOT BECAUSE OF THE MS PROGRAM, BUT BECAUSE OF THE PROJECT GOALS.

I HAD TO CANCEL HOLIDAY PLANS TO BEAT PROJECT DEADLINES. I HAVE BEEN CALLED TO COME TO THE LAB ON SATURDAYS AND SUNDAYS TO FINISH SOME WORK. ALL FOR THAT 1 YEAR GOAL UNRELATED TO THE 2-year MS DEGREE PROGRAM OF TOHOKU UNIVERSITY. MY LABMATE, I WILL TAG HER HERE IF SHE ALLOWS, GOES HOME AT 5 pm. HAS TIME TO ENROLL IN NIHONGGO CLASSES. HAS HOLIDAYS AND WEEKENDS COMPLETELY TO HER OWN PLANNING. She is working on store-and-forward algorithm for satellite communications. That’s REAL research.
US, WE DO NOT HAVE SUCH HEALTHY LUXURY. IT WAS ALL WORK, WORK, WORK.

When PEOPLE’s MONEY (MILLIONS OF PESOS) ARE INVESTED IN A PROJECT, IT CANNOT SIMPLY BE RESEARCH (WHERE FAILING TO REACH SPECS IS OK). WE CANNOT GO HOME UNTIL WE REACH SPECS, SPACE-GRADE ALMOST EVERY NIGHT BECAUSE THE PROJECT HAD TO BE DELIVERED. PROJECT DEADLINES AND NOT MS PROGRAM DEADLINES.

THIS IS PRECISELY BECAUSE OUR DEGREES ARE NOT REALLY AT STAKE. WE WERE WORKING, NOT STUDYING. YET WE DID NOT QUIT. NOT BECAUSE OF THE IMAGINARY CONTRACT. BUT BECAUSE THIS IS HOPE FOR THE FILIPINO PEOPLE. FOR THE COUNTRY.

DOST AND DR. MARCIANO KNEW THE WORK LOAD, KNEW OUR NEVER-ENDING COMPLAINTS. FOR 1 YEAR! Why WAS the timeline NOT changed? BECAUSE THE PROJECT NEEDED TO BE SUCCESSFUL REGARDLESS OF WHAT HAPPENS TO OUR DEGREES. REGARDLESS OF WHAT HAPPENS TO US. WHY? BECAUSE WE HAVE NO RIGHTS. WE ARE JUST STUDENTS.

January, turnover of DIWATA1 was the day I was ABLE TO START MY THESIS. THE DAY I STARTED PROPOSING A TOPIC. THE DAY I STARTED READING IEEE PAPERS. THAT WAS AFTER 1 YEAR OF WORKING AT DIWATA1. ONE YEAR WHEN WE WERE SUPPOSED TO BE STUDENTS!

Why do you think it should be 1 year, given that the scientists discouraged it and originally offered it as a 3-year project? Use your heads PEOPLE! Ano ang masasacrifice pag hindi ginawang 1 year ang Diwata1? Isip isip. Is it our degrees?
NO.ASK THE OTHER DIWATA1 ENGINEERS. ASK MY TEAMMATES IN TOHOKU.
PLEASE.STOP THE LIES DOST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As of posting, the DOST has not yet released their official statement on the issue.

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