DENR official accuses UP of milking public funds amid Manila Bay rehab criticism


Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary Benny Antiporda on Wednesday slammed the University of the Philippines for allegedly milking public funds since 2016.

In a public briefing, Antiporda made the statement when asked about the offer of UP Diliman Institute of Biology  to help in the rehabilitation of Manila Bay.

“Kalahating bilyon ang binayaran sa kanila simula 2016 hanggang taong ito. Kalahating bilyon na puro lang konsultasyon, walang infrastructure. Kalahating bilyon  ang binayaran natin sa UP na 'yan,” he said.

“Bakit kayo naniningil sa gobyerno? Matapos kayong pag-aralin ng taumbayan, matapos kayong maging iskolar ng taumbayan, sisipsipin niyo ang dugo ng ating kababayan sa dami ng kinuha niyong pondo,” he added.

Earlier, UP biologists advised the government to use mangroves instead of covering Manila Bay’s shoreline with crushed dolomite because this project is cheaper and more cost-effective.

Antiporda said DENR will accept the help if it is for free.

He also slammed UP for criticizing DENR's project which aims to cover some parts of the shoreline of the Manila Bay with crushed dolomite to achieve the aesthetic of a white sand beach.

“Tapos ngayon, gumagawa kami ng maganda, kailangan magbayad kami sa inyo. Huwag naman,” Antiporda said.

“Hindi niyo karapatan batikusin ito dahil bayaran kayo. ‘Yun lang po ang masasabi ko sa UP. Uulit-ulitin ko: Bayaran kayo,” he said.

Antiporda called on the Commission on Audit to look into the payments of the government to the university.

UP Vice President for Public Affairs  Elena Pernia told GMA News Online that the experts from the university did not mean to criticize the DENR and noted that they only put out their studies.


“Hindi naman 'yun criticism. It is the job of the University. It is the job of scientists to put out their studies.  We're not criticizing,” she said.

“Wala kaming kini-criticize. Parehas kaming gobyerno. Tumutulong kami,” she added.

Pernia pointed out that UP also published reports about different topics not only those related to the field of the DENR.

She also explained it is common to make investments when conducting research.

However, she noted that the amount already given by the DENR to the Marine Science Institute (MSI) is less than P500 million, contrary to the allegation of Antiporda.

“Hindi ka naman makakagawa ng saliksik  kung wala kang gamit.  ‘Yung gastos ng pagsasaliksik, doon ang investment,” Pernia said.

“I believe the exact amount is less than half a billion,” she added.

Fishers group PAMALAKAYA national chairperson Fernando Hicap, who disapproved of the white sand project from the start,  slammed Antiporda for his allegations against the university system.

“He deserves a strong condemnation over his tirade against U.P. experts who proposed planting of mangroves instead of beach nourishment,” Hicap said in a statement.

He pointed out that the funding intended for research and development was the reason why the experts came out with a suggestion that mangroves are way better than any synthetic sand.

“Ultimately, those funds, including the P389 million that the DENR has wasted for useless beach nourishment, were taxpayers,” he said.

“The audacity of Antiporda to lash out at our competent and productive scientists when it is himself who has no credibility in becoming an environmental official because he is neither an environmentalist nor an expert,” he added.—KG/AOL, GMA News