MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo said Sunday Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda's statement describing UP scientists "bayaran" or paid hacks was "totally uncalled for."
Antiporda has since apologized to the state university, which the UP Marine Science Institute accepted.
Robredo said the incident should serve as a lesson to all.
"Ito totally uncalled for. Totally uncalled for. Lesson ito sa ating lahat—hindi lang sa public officials, pero pati sa mga ordinaryong tao—na hinay-hinay sa pagsalita, kasi mayroon kang mga nabibitawan na mahirap nang ibalik," she said in her weekly radio show.
(It's a lesson to everyone--not just public officials, but also ordinary people--to mind their words, because they may say something they can't take back.)
"Kahit nag-apologize na tingin ko hindi talaga maganda. Hindi magandang example, hindi magandang pag-uugali, iyong kapag napipikon ka nakakapagsabi ka ng mga bagay na dapat hindi mo sinasabi."
(Even if he apologized, it still didn't look good. It's not a good example, it's not good behavior to say things you shouldn't say when you're angry.)
Robredo defended the scientists who she said use funds from the government to do research.
"Sila ginagawa lang nila iyong trabaho nila. Iyong sa atin, lahat naman na research would entail expenses. Iyon iyong dahilan kung bakit nagbabayad iyong gobyerno sa research," she said.
(They're just doing their job. All research would entail expenses. That's why government spends for research.)
"Pero ito, ito, dahil sa pagkapikon, magsasabi ka ng mga bagay na, una, hindi dini-deserve. Pangalawa, mahirap nang bawiin."
(But because this official was ill-tempered, he said something that the group didn't deserve. Second, it's hard to take back.)
Robredo added that the funds used for Manila Bay's beautification could have been used for more urgent needs.
"Nakita natin ngayon, na ngayong ulan nang ulan, nakita natin iyong epekto. Ito iyong sinasabi natin na sana sa gitna ng pandemya, pinag-iisipan iyong paggastos ng pera, kasi maraming marami na pagkakagastusan na mas importante," she said.
(We saw this rainy season its effect. In the middle of the pandemic, money should be spent on more important things.)
"Okay lang sana na gawin in the midst of the pandemic kung marami tayong pera. Pero kung wala nga tayong pera, marami nga tayong kailangang gastusan na hindi natin napapagastusan, tapos inuna ito. So ano iyong mensahe? Ano iyong mensahe sa tao? Hindi talaga maganda."
(It's okay to do this if we had a lot of money in the midst of the pandemic. But if we lack funds and we have a lot of needs, and you prioritize this, what does that say? What's the message to the people? It's not good.)
Antiporda earlier said the P389 million used for the Manila Bay project cannot be diverted to COVID-19 aid as it was bid out “more than a year ago."