Environment and Natural Resources Undersecretary Benny Antiporda apologized Thursday to University of the Philippines scientists for his outburst and calling them “bayaran” or paid hacks.
Antiporda, in an interview with ANC, said his statement was not intended to “destroy the good name” of UP.
“This is just a message to UP MSI (Marine Science Institute) that we are partners here…Ang akin lang po is partners po tayo, along the way may nakita po kayong mali sa amin (On my part, we are partners here, if along the way you saw a problem in our project), what we’re expecting is for you to call us or even text us, or even write a letter to the Secretary kung ano ang puwede naming gawin (about what we can do to resolve it),” Antiporda said.
“Sad to say hindi po ganon ang nangyari (That’s not what happened). It went straight to the media destroying the good name of the DENR naman,” the Environment and Natural Resources Undersecretary added.
Antiporda also said he was only carried away by emotions when he told the UP experts that they don’t have the right to criticize the “white sand” project of the government at Manila Bay.
“Medyo masakit po (It was just hurtful). What we really want is something good for the people when it comes to this project kasi dati po basura ‘to ginawa natin buhangin (because this was just garbage before, now we turned it into a sand),” Antiporda said.
“We’re partners, we could’ve been flat about the issue first and after that kung sakaling hindi ho kami sumunod…okay lang ho ilabas ho nila sa media kasi matigas ulo namin (If we didn’t listen to their suggestions then it’s okay to put it out on the media),” he added.
Antiporda underscored that whether the UP MSI agrees or disagrees with the white sand project, the UP MSI could have taken up the matter with the DENR.
He said the DENR would have come up with a “mitigation” if they were flagged by the UP MSI earlier in project.
“But if it’s from the media, we have no choice but to justify everything. Kami naman talaga…we’re open to talk about this because I know UP MSI has no bad intention also,” he added.
Antiporda cited why UP MSI wasn’t consulted about the use of dolomite in the Manila Bay if they were indeed partners.
“Nagbabayad po kami, ‘yun po ang point. Just by mere using dolomite wherein ginagamit naman ito sa bong mundo and ginagamit kahit saan sa ating bansa, i-consult pa namin sa UP MSI at mag babayad pa kami, ‘yun po ang sinasabi ko. If it’s for free walang problem ‘yan (We pay UP, that’s the point. Just by mere using dolomite, which has been used around the world, and in the country, I don’t see the need for us to consult UP MSI and pay. If it’s for free, then we would’ve consulted).”
Dr. Laura David, director of the UP MSI, who was in the interview with Antiporda, accepted the DENR official’s apology.
David said the matter is just a “miscommunication.”
“I think Undersecretary Antiporda is not just familiar with the service contract. I think once he knows that that’s the case, that were not consultants and in fact all of this went back to the public, I think he’ll understand that he was amiss in saying na ‘bayaran’,” David said.