OPINION: Disaster preparedness and politics

Tin Bartolome

Posted at Feb 24 2017 03:51 PM

In a country that faces numerous natural disasters—from typhoons to earthquakes and tsunamis, communications—dissemination of information is one of the most important functions of mass media. 

To do this, a reliable source of data and analysis, apart from the ability to convey information accurately, must be accessible. This is exactly what Project NOAH provides. 

Project NOAH or Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards was launched by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in 2012 under Dr. Mahar Lagmay as Executive Director.

Project NOAH officially ends February of this year after two year-long extensions, and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomic Services Administration (PAGASA) was poised to take over as Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said that projects like NOAH do end and must be turned over to regular government agencies to institutionalize and make use of the project’s research output—which includes technology. 

Many questions and issues arose and opinions from either side were aired. 

I began to wonder what was not being said in the discussions. Why could PAGASA not have come up with its own NOAH? According to the project website, it was a response to the previous administration’s instruction to come up with a program that would allow 6 hours of lead-time warning to vulnerable communities. Is it because it was organized under a different organization? And why would this banner be displayed at the PAGASA premises?

And then, Atty. Frederick Mikhail Farolan of the UP Board of Regents posted this on Facebook:

“The U.P. Board of Regents, in its 1325th meeting today, approved to establish the Project NOAH Center in the U.P. System which would continue the work of the Project NOAH Team which would conclude its engagement with the DOST in the coming weeks.

"Project NOAH was an initiative that started in U.P. which was eventually adopted by the DOST. As the DOST-NOAH project period nears its end this February, the action of the U.P. Board of Regents ensures that the multidisciplinary applied and operational researches of Project NOAH, which has been critical to saving lives and property, continue.”

Now, why should I be interested in Project NOAH and how it feeds information to the media? Apart from being a taxpayer, it matters a lot because I (Iike everyone else), need to know and understand how these natural phenomena would affect us and our loved ones. Properly explained and with enough lead time, people would heed the warnings, do as they are told, thereby reducing risks!

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.