On Wednesday, October 14, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary and spokesperson Benny Antiporda trended online for his remarks about the University of the Philippines (UP) and their “expensive consultation fees.”
The spokesperson was also quoted for calling the state university “bayaran,” which he says is why UP had no right to criticize the government for its recent Manila Bay white sand project.
“Ang UP po sa buong pagkaalam natin ay libre dapat yan, ano po? Bakit kayo naniningil sa gobyerno?,” Antiporda said. “Tapos ngayon, gumagawa kami ng maganda, kailangan magbayad kami sa inyo? Wag naman. Hindi niyo karapatan batikusin ito dahil bayaran kayo. Yun lang po ang masasabi ko sa UP. Uulitin ko, bayaran kayo.”
The undersecretary has said the statement in response to experts from the UP Marine Sciences Institute (MSI) who suggested that instead of putting dolomite on its shores, it would be better for the Manila Bay and the environment if mangroves were planted. (Read: San Miguel Addresses Flooding In Bulacan, Plants 25,000 Mangroves)
“The dumping of dolomite in Manila Bay has effectively covered part of the intertidal area used by the birds thereby reducing their habitat,” experts from MSI said. They have since called for a science-based approach in the rehabilitation of the Manila Bay.
As of writing, Undersecretary Antiporda has already apologized for his “bayaran” remark, saying, “First, it is not intended to destroy the good name of the university itself. This is just to send a message to the UP MSI that we’re partners here.”
However, this is not the first time a government offical has called students, alumni, and experts from UP “bayaran” or “terorista.” In the past few years, there have been multiple occurrences of blatant red-tagging of activists and progressive groups. This year alone, news of red-tagging in various provinces and platforms have been reported and eventually forgotten by many.
Red-Tagging and “Bayaran” Remarks
Photos from UP Manila University Student Council Facebook, Candice Mangili / Northern Dispatch, and Lorraine Marie T. Badoy FacebookIn April of this year, the UP Manila student council reported that they have received death threats from strangers who were contacting their donation drive hotlines. (Read: Call for donors! PGH runs low on blood supply for patients) The donation drive, which they set up for health care workers from the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), received an alarming amount of calls and messages that purposefully red-tagged the students as communist rebels.
Fast forward a few months to July, UP Baguio students and faculty reported having received death threats and messages claiming that the university is a front for communist groups like the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA). This instance put the lives of several student-activists and faculty in danger. (Read: UP Students, Professors Find Ghost Facebook Accounts Under Their Names)
And most recently, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy was under fire for accusing a handful of lawmakers of being high-ranking individuals of the CPP-NPA. She accused the lawmakers of the Makabayan bloc during a budget hearing for the 2021 budget of their office. Because of this, the Makabayan bloc is looking into filing charges against Badoy for ‘malicious red-tagging’ and the suspension of the hearing for the PCOO’s 2021 budget.