After receiving flak over his “bayaran ka” remark directed at the experts of the UP Marine Science Institute (UP MSI) amid the controversies hounding the Manila Bay white sand project, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Usec. Benny Antiporda issued a public apology.
“I would like to start my statement with an apology to the UP as a whole. First, it is not intended to destroy the good name of the university itself. This is just to send a message to the UP MSI [Marine Science Institute] that we’re partners here,” Antiporda said in an interview.
“I apologize because talagang natangay din po ako ng emotions ko kahapon dahil po medyo masakit po e. Hindi po akong pulitikong tao kaya ganun. We want something good for the people. When it comes to this project po kasi, dati basura ito, ngayon po buhangin,” he added.
In response, UP MSI Director Laura David, who was also present during the interview, accepted Antiporda’s apology saying: “Wala naman pong bad blood between DENR and UP.”
On Wednesday (October 14), the DENR official lashed out at UP MSI experts commenting on the “white sand” beach project along Manila Bay, calling them mercenaries and saying they have no right to air their criticisms.
“Kalahating bilyon na puro lang consultation, walang infrastructure. Bakit kayo naniningil sa gobyerno matapos kayong pag-aralin ng taumbayan, matapos kayong maging scholar ng taumbayan?” Antiporda asked, claiming that the government has been paying UP scientists some P500 million since 2016.
“Sisipsipin niyo ang dugo ng taumbayan sa dami niyong kinuhang pondo tapos ngayon gumagawa kami ng maganda, kailangan naming magbayad sa inyo?” he said, calling the experts “bayaran.”
He also urged the Commission on Audit (COA) to investigate UP, particularly the UP MSI. He further claimed that “every time we consult them, we pay them so much money, and people don’t know that.”
In a statement, UP MSI addressed the DENR official’s accusation, saying that the scientific advice and technical inputs it provides are free of charge, but laboratory tests and research are not.
“The costs of scientific research and investigation, from the use of laboratories and research equipment and facilities, to support for research assistants, should be, as they actually are shouldered by the clients,” UP MSI said.