In an interview on Thursday, University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UP MSI) Director Dr. Laura David clarified that the amount paid by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was used for collaborative projects in the past ten years when the agency needed the institution’s services.

“Scientists stand by science. Whatever they learned, studied, they share it to the public. It is part of their job, their mandate as scientists, and being part of the university. As part of the university, it is our mandate to share what we know,” said David.

The statement came following DENR Usec. Benny Antiporda’s accusations that the institution received some P500 million in consultation fees, calling scientists from the state university “bayaran” and have no right to criticize the Manila Bay nourishment project.

UP MSI issued a statement on its website and social media accounts, saying: “Specifically, the correct amount is P364,073,909.40 total for the last decade, spanning ten collaborative projects between the UP MSI and the DENR as well as co-sponsorship support for a scientific symposium.”

“This is hardly the half a billion the undersecretary has been claiming. It is simply the cost of the collaborative projects for which the DENR had the need for the expertise of the UP MSI,” it added.

UP MSI also explained that the amount was used to support projects tasked with nationwide standardized assessments of National Integrated Protected Areas Systems sites, enhance capacity for the management and rehabilitation of marine ecosystems, and strengthen the understanding of the country’s waters from the West Philippine Sea to the Philippine Rise in the Pacific.

The amount also covered the use of laboratories, research equipment and facilities, field works, support for research assistance, and capacity building of national government agencies and higher education institutions personnel.

The institution reiterated that the costs of scientific research and investigation are typically shouldered by clients requesting UP MSI’s service, explaining it is not a government line agency. UP MSI also said it welcomes a potential audit by the Commission on Audit (COA) as Antiporda threatened on Wednesday.

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