DENR exec says UP experts 'have no right' to criticize Manila Bay makeover

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 14 2020 01:10 PM | Updated as of Oct 14 2020 04:39 PM

DENR exec says UP experts 'have no right' to criticize Manila Bay makeover 1
A view of the “white sand” project in Manila Bay as it temporarily opens to the public on September 19, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (2nd UPDATE) — An environment official on Wednesday said experts from the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman had "no right" to criticize the use of synthetic white sand for a beautification project at the Manila Bay. 

The UP Institute of Biology recently said it was willing to assist the environment department in a "science-based rehabilitation program for Manila Bay," where they said mangroves should be planted. 

Mangroves will "destroy the landscape," said Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda.

"Hindi ho magandang tingnan and at the same time, hindi ho mabubuhay sa lugar na ito iyong mangrove," he said in a Laging Handa public briefing. 

(It will not be pleasant to look at and at the same time, it will not thrive there.) 

He said his agency would accept help from experts "as long as it is for free." 

Zhander Cayabyab, ABS-CBN News

Antiporda then said his agency has paid about P500 million to UP experts since 2016 for consultations. 

"Ang UP po sa pagkaalam natin, dapat libre iyan. Bakit kayo naniningil sa gobyerno matapos kayong pag-aralin ng taong-bayan... sipsipin n'yo ang dugo ng taongbayan sa dami ng kinuha n'yong pondo. Tapos ngayon gumagawa kami ng maganda, kailangan magbayad kami sa inyo?" he said.

(From what I know of UP, that should be free. Why will you charge the government a fee after the public paid for your education. Now you want to suction off the blood of the people with the funds you got. We are doing something good, yet we have to pay you?)

"Hindi n'yo karapatang batikusin ito dahil bayaran kayo. Iyon lang po ang masasabi ko sa UP. Uulit-ulitin ko: bayaran kayo," he said. 

(It is not your right to criticize this because you are paid for. That's all I can say to UP. I will repeat it: you were paid.)


UP Marine Science Institute (MSI) Director Dr. Laura David said the state university has a mandate to teach, research and render public service. 

"Kalakip lang sa mga ito ang magbigay na opinyon ayon sa aming iba't ibang kaalaman," she told ABS-CBN News. 

(These include giving our opinion, based on various disciplines.)

UP experts received some P364 million from the government in the last decade for "10 projects in collaboration with DENR and co-sponsorship support for a symposium," she said. 

"Welcome din po ang audit sa amin. Just like any government office, kahit kailan naman po puwede talaga i-audit," David said. 

(An audit is welcome to us. Just like any government agency, an audit is allowed anytime.) 

UP marine scientists earlier said their services were for free, but other research expenses should be shouldered by “clients.” 

"The funds supported the costs of scientific research and investigation, from the use of laboratories and research equipment and facilities, to support for research assistants. These are the typical costs typically shouldered by the clients. The funds also supported capacity building of NGA and HEI personnel," said David. 

The UPMSI is not a line agency in the government’s executive branch, and its internal Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) "are limited to maintaining the laboratory facilities and field equipment in Diliman and the Bolinao Marine Laboratory," she said. 

"Wala po kaming access sa funds para matugunan ang mga katanungan na kailangan pa ng karagdagang saliksik," David said. 

(We don't have access to funds to address questions that need further research.)