DENR exec slams ex-solon’s ‘overpriced’ Manila Bay rehab claim

DENR exec slams ex-solon’s ‘overpriced’ Manila Bay rehab claim

‘DO THE MATH’. DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda (left) on Thursday (Sept. 24, 2020) claimed that he gave Infrawatch PH convenor Terry Ridon (right) a lecture on mathematics due to allegations of overpricing on the Manila Bay beach nourishment project. Ridon, however, called on Antiporda to stick to the facts and not resort to name-calling in dealing with critics of the Manila Bay white sand project. (PNA file photos)

MANILA – Department of Environment and Natural Resources Undersecretary Benny Antiporda took a swipe at former Kabataan Party-list congressman and Infrawatch PH convenor Terry Ridon over his claims that the Manila Bay beach nourishment project was “overpriced”.

In a statement on Thursday, Antiporda said he called up Ridon, whom he considers a friend, thrice on different occasions “to make him understand that the overlaying of dolomite sand was not overpriced as he thought.”

“During the first time I called him, I explained to him that the project is estimated to cover 30,000 square meters, with a length of 500 meters x 60 meters width. To make it look overpriced, Ridon divided the project cost, which is PHP389 million, by 500 meters, instead of the number of square meters,” he said.

Antiporda noted that the “erroneous formula” led him to conclude that the project costs PHP778,000 per meter.

“But if he divided PHP389 million by 30,000 square meters, the result would be PHP12,267 per square meter, which is quite reasonable,” he said, adding that he gave Ridon a “lecture on Math 101.”

Antiporda explained that the project could not be overpriced as the PHP28 million used to emplace the crushed dolomite covers the whole package cost from the crushed dolomite to the shipping cost from Cebu to Manila Bay.

He said despite numerous attempts to reach out and explain to Ridon, his calls fell on deaf ears as the latter continued with his unfounded criticisms on the project.

Meanwhile, Ridon said Antiporda should only stick to the facts and not resort to name-calling in dealing with critics of the Manila Bay white sand project.

“I continue to consider him an old friend despite these low blows, so I urge him to just stick to the debate on the project’s lack of an environmental compliance certificate and concerns on project costs,” he told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

Ridon added that the raising of the non-relevant issues of official travels should not be raised as this had already been sufficiently addressed in the past two years and had full authority from the Office of the President.

He was referring to Antiporda’s statement that President Rodrigo Duterte “fired Ridon after finding out about his unnecessary travels abroad.”

“Stick to the relevant issues: the Manila Bay project violated environmental laws, the sand is already leaching into the water, and the project costs appear significantly higher than market rates,” Ridon said.

He said there are policies of the government that “we support and oppose.”

“We laud the President’s diplomatic jetski in the UN General Assembly in asserting our victory in the arbitral ruling on the West Philippine Sea. But we oppose projects which we deem ill-planned, environmentally harmful, and demonstrably a waste of public funds,” Ridon said.

He also said he does not need any lesson in mathematics as he learned finance and economics at the University of the Philippines and Harvard University. (PNA)

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