Project NOAH, a hazard and risk monitoring program under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), is a research project that has an assigned start and end date, the agency's secretary said Tuesday.
DOST Secretary Fortunato Dela Peña said in an interview on DZMM Teleradyo that Project NOAH, which stands for Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards, was started in 2011 and was supposed to be finished in 2015. It was extended until the end of February 2017.
The project's executive director Mahar Lagmay, in a separate interview, lamented that the project had to be discontinued after the said date. He said it should be retained until the end goal of having fewer disaster-caused casualties is achieved.
Dela Peña, however, argued that Lagmay and other personnel knew of the end date when they agreed to the extension.
"Nung 2016, meron pa silang gusting gawin, so inextend iyung project up to February 28, 2017 so noon namang sila ay pumirma ng kontrata ng extension ay alam na nila yun," he said.
He said he told the concerned parties that should they have any other projects involved in disaster risk reduction that they would want to pursue, "go ahead and present. Pero as in any project, meron tayong start date at meron tayong end date."
Dela Peña said the DOST wants the outputs and technologies developed through Project NOAH be turned over to the government agency which they believe would be best to adopt and use them, which is state weather bureau PAGASA.
"Willing naman ang PAGASA to absorb or to adopt the technologies that they have developed. We can label it NOAH technologies if he is very concerned about the name," he said.
He added that they are eyeing a transition period from the end of February 2017 until the end of the year for PAGASA and Project NOAH to work together. He said they intend to tap some Project NOAH's personnel for this.
"We intend to get some, but not all of the 40 people that have been involved in the project. We estimate that we need around 15 kasi ang PAGASA naman, may sariling work force," he said.
Lagmay earlier said that from the original 80 personnel for the project, they were trimmed down to 40, and they will all be displaced once the project is discontinued.
He said the lack of human resources would be the problem why the project would end, citing that they would no longer have the money to provide salary for personnel.
He said this is regretful, considering that these people are well-trained, skilled, and experienced research scientists, not forecasters, specializing on disaster science.
Around P25 million is needed annually to fund the project's 40-man team.
Lagmay also said the name Project NOAH must be retained because of name recall among Filipinos, noting that this was already taught in schools.
"Hindi ko po maintindihan bakit tatanggalin yung pangalan na Project NOAH at bakit ko titigilin iyung pagpondo doon sa mga tao na nagsilbi sa bayan na epektibo naman," he said.
"Bagama't ito ay proyekto eh yung proyektong iyan ay malaki po ang naitulong sa ating bayan at dapat ituloy," he added.