UP experts: Advice free, but research needs funds
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - October 15, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Marine scientists from the University of the Philippines (UP) disputed the claim of a Department of Environment and Natural Resources official that they charged the DENR “hundreds of millions” in consultation fees.

The UP Marine Science Institute (UPMSI), which Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda accused of charging consultation fees, maintained that it offers technical inputs and scientific advice to government agencies for free in accordance with UP’s mandate as a national university.

It clarified, however, that field or laboratory experiments are needed to provide science-based answers to some questions and problems that cannot be addressed without conducting research.

“The costs of scientific research and investigation, from the use of laboratories and research equipment and facilities to support for research assistants... actually are shouldered by the clients, as the UPMSI is not a line agency in the government’s executive branch,” said the institute.

The UPMSI drew the ire of Antiporda after it noted that the use of crushed dolomite sand is a costly and temporary effort that will not solve the root causes of the environmental problems in Manila Bay.

“The dolomite sand will wash away into the bay with subsequent intense and heavy rainfall events and wave action especially during storms,” it said.

Marine scientists said cleaning up Manila Bay should include infrastructure infusion for wastewater treatment plants, transfer of informal settlers living along riverbanks and coastal areas, decreased sedimentation from the watershed and zero garbage inputs.

They said massive reforestation is needed in the watershed, adding that retention ponds may be added to serve as multi-use areas to store and treat water.

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