Palace: DENR tirades vs UP may be a 'misunderstanding'

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 15 2020 12:01 PM | Updated as of Oct 15 2020 12:17 PM

Citizens flock to the Manila Baywalk, even amid closing time on Sept. 20, 2020, as the dolomite-laden area of Manila Bay temporarily opens to the public over the weekend. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - An Environment official's tirades against experts of the University of the Philippines who criticizes the Manila Bay's dolomite beach might be rooted in "a misunderstanding," Malacañang said Thursday. 

Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said Wednesday UP experts had "no right" to criticize the project because they had received millions of pesos in government payment for consultations. 

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, who graduated from UP and taught there for 15 years, said the state university is mandated by law to partner with the government. 

"Kaya nga po ang UP tinitingnan po natin talagang partner iyan at kung talaga namang makikipagtulungan ang UP, parang obligasyon pa nga nila sa batas na bumuo sa bagong Pamantasan ng Pilipinas, iyong bagong charter ng UP na makipagtulungan sa gobyerno," he said in a television interview on GMA 7's Unang Hirit. 

(This is why we view UP as a partner, and it appears that it is their obligation to cooperate with the government, according to the charter that established the University of the Philippines.)

"So sa akin po, siguro po hindi lang pagkakaintindihan iyan, hayaan po ninyo baka kinakailangang mag-mediate ang aking opisina, dahil nasa batas naman po iyan na talagang kaakbay ng gobyerno ang UP bilang the national university," he added. 

(So for me, that is perhaps a misunderstanding. If needed, my office will mediate because the law states that the UP is a partner of the government.)

Antiporda earlier Thursday refused to apologize to the UP Marine Science Institute that he called "bayaran." 

He later apologized to the institute, blaming his outburst for his heightened emotions. 

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"It is not intended to destroy the good name of the university itself but this is just to send the message to UP MSI that we’re partners here," he told ANC's Headstart. 

Vice President Leni Robredo and other critics earlier said funds for the dolomite beach could have been better used to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Malacañang said the project would improve the public's mental health.