By TJ Dimacali, GMA News
This article was originally published by GMA News on February 23, 2017.
The University of the Philippines has moved to establish an office that will continue the initiatives started by the government’s Project NOAH disaster response program.
In a meeting on Thursday, February 23, the UP Board of Regents approved the establishment of a “Project NOAH Center” in the UP System, according to a post by Regent Atty. Frederick Mikhail “Spocky” Farolan on Facebook.
“As the DOST-NOAH project period nears its end this February, the action of the UP Board of Regents ensures that the multidisciplinary applied and operational researches of Project NOAH, which has been critical to saving lives and property, continue,” Farolan said.
“The move also allows government agencies and funding institutions to continue supporting component projects of Project NOAH and for communities and (disaster risk reduction and management)-involved offices to benefit from the program,” he added.
“(Disaster risk reduction and management) is an area UP sees itself as truly taking the lead (in), not only as an academic institution but (also) as a public service institution as well, which is part of its mandate,” Farolan explained to GMA News Online.
“The matter was included in the agenda (of the February 23 board meeting) by motion of UP President Danilo Concepcion and myself as regent,” Farolan said.
Project NOAH Executive Director Mahar Lagmay officially confirmed the closure of the government project by the end of February this year.
“We were a program in need of a home,” Lagmay said in an official press statement from UP.
“We remain deeply grateful to the DOST for having hosted us, and we look forward to complementing the work of its agencies toward our common goal of mitigating the effects of disasters on our people,” he added.
Project NOAH was launched in 2012 “in response to President Aquino’s instructions to put in place a responsive program for disaster prevention and mitigation, specifically, for the Philippines’ warning agencies to be able to provide a 6 hour lead-time warning to vulnerable communities against impending floods and to use advanced technology to enhance current geo-hazard vulnerability maps,” according to the project website.
While no less than DOST Sec. Fortunato de la Peña himself has assured that PAGASA will take over the handling of Project NOAH, fears have been raised that not all of its experts will be absorbed into the state weather bureau.
This has prompted a sigh of relief from some observers, who welcome the UP BOR’s surprise initiative.
In reply to an inquiry on his Facebook post, Farolan affirmed that Lagmay would still play a lead role in the Center. — GMA News