This is to clarify the statement made by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary Benny Antiporda accusing the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UPMSI) of charging the DENR half a billion pesos in consultation fees and being, in a word, “bayaran”.
Specifically, the correct amount is Php364,073,909.40 total for the last decade, spanning 10 collaborative projects between the UPMSI and the DENR as well as co-sponsorship support for a 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 experise of the UPMSI. As was stated before, the Php364 million supported the cost of scientific research and investigation, from the use of laboratories and research equipment and facilities, to field work, to support for research assistants. The funds also supported capacity-building of national government agencies and Higher Education Institutions personnel. These costs are typically shouldered by clients requesting the UPMSI’s services, as the Institute has no access to funds that would support the conduct of scientific inquiry on top of the research it is already doing. To reiterate, all of the UPMSI’s research and development activities are project-based, with very specific fund disbursement guidelines and limitations. The internal Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) funds of UPMSI are limited to maintaining the laboratory facilities and field equipment in Diliman and the Bolinao Marine Laboratory.
Moreover, the UPMSI welcomes being audited by the Commission on Audit at any time. This is only appropriate for any government office or agency, given the understanding that any funding received by the Institute is ultimately channeled into scientific projects meant to protect the Philippines’ marine ecology and to promote the development of the nation—as should be the case for any government office or agency.
The UPMSI recognizes the DENR as a long-standing partner in its quest to conduct research and render public service to the Filipino. Indeed, many UPMSI graduates have gone on to work for the DENR—UP graduates who remain committed to UP’s principles of honor and excellence. Hence, the UPMSI remains willing and open to extending its services to the DENR, no matter the passing opinions of the day.