UP-MSI head says Antiporda might have misunderstood their services for DENR

Dennis Gasgonia, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 14 2020 08:20 PM | Updated as of Oct 15 2020 05:37 AM

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MANILA (UPDATE) - The head of the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI) believes Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda may have misunderstood the service the institute has been rendering for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

"Malamang po, hindi familiar si Usec. sa contract service ng UP. Sa tingin, niya consultancy ito. Ang katotohanan ay service contract po," said Dr. Laura David, director of the UP-MSI, in an interview on TeleRadyo Wednesday afternoon.

(Most likely, Usec. Antiporda is not familiar with the contract service of UP. He thinks this is consultancy. But it is in fact a contract service.)

"Ibig sabihin noon, karamihan ng pera na naipadala ng DENR ay para sa pananaliksik, field work, laboratory work na kinailangan naming gawin para matugunan ang mga katanungan ng DENR."

(It means, the fund provided by DENR is for research, field work, and laboratory work that we need to do to be able to respond to the questions of DENR.)

Antiporda told UP scientists earlier in the day that they have "no right" to criticize the use of crushed dolomite in the Manila Bay beautification project.

The UP-MSI had said a few weeks ago that the use of crushed dolomite will not help solve the environmental problems in Manila Bay.

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

Rejecting the suggestion, Antiporda said during Wednesday's Laging Handa briefing, ""Hindi ho magandang tingnan and at the same time, hindi ho mabubuhay sa lugar na ito iyong mangrove."

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

Saying that the DENR has paid about P500 million to UP experts since 2016 for consultation, Antiporda said the agency will accept help from experts "as long as it is for free."

According to David, for the last 10 years, UP-MSI was paid P364 million as part of "10 contract services." But it did not cover the beautification project in Manila Bay.

She maintained that scientific research is very important in such projects for safety and efficient spending.

"Kahit na anong ginagawang paglalagay ng lupa sa tabing-dagat, dapat maagap ang pananaliksik dahil puwedeng may maling puwesto, puwedeng maling materyal na ginagamit. Ang nangyayari, kapag ganoon, nagiging magastos ang pag-a-upkeep ng isang lugar," she said.

(In any reclamation activity in shorelines, there should be proper research because there may be wrong placement, or wrong use of materials. If these happen, maintaining the area can be costly.)

In the case of the Manila Bay beatification project, David said she understands the agency's effort to landscape the area.

Still, the kind of artificial sand used does not fit there, she said.

"Ang puwesto na pinili na paglagyan ng dolomite o extension ng beach, isa po itong lugar na kung saan nagsasalpukan ang dalawang current o dalawang daloy ng tubig sa Manila Bay," explained David.

(The place where they chose to put dolomite is one where two different currents merge.)

"'Pag ganito pong lugar, mas madali siyang masira... 'Pag pumunta kayo sa bawat beach, mare-realize n'yo na iba't ibang klaseng sand ang nakalagay. Kagaya ng Boracay sand, pino; Batanes beach, mabato. Kasi po, bawat isang lugar, iba ang lakas ng alon na humahampas. Kapag mali ang sand na inilagay, madali siyang ma-e-erode. Sayang lang ang investment kapag ganoon."

(In that kind of place, any project can be easily destroyed... If you go to every beach, you will realize that the sand differs. In Boracay, it's fine. In Batanes, it's rocky. It is because each place has different sea current. So, if you put the wrong kind of sand, that may just be eroded. You wasted your investment.)

David said the upkeep for the Manila Bay artificial sand will be high since the shores are typically hit by strong waves.

"Magastos po iyang location pong iyan... Typically po na ang ganito pong type ng projects, matagal na po ang limang taon bago ma-wash out. Kung minsan, isang bagyo lang bago siya ma-wash out," she warned.

(That's a costly location... With this type of project, 5 years is too long before a washout could happen. Sometimes, even with just one typhoon, it may already be washed out.)

But David said the institute wants to maintain good relations with DENR.

"Ayaw po naming masira ang aming relationship na matagal na sa DENR. We really think it's just a misunderstanding on his part... Hindi lang niya alam yung mga kontrata, and I think we can clear this out," she said.

(We don't want to destroy our relationship with DENR, which has been established for a long time already... He may just not be familiar with the contracts.)--With a report from Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News