Drilon says House to blame for SEA Games budget mess

House Speaker and Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISCOG) Chairman Alan Peter Cayetano visited on Sunday, November 24, the foreign athletes who suffered logistical problems following their arrival in the country.
| Photo from Facebook/2019 Sea Games

PHILIPPINE Senator Franklin Drilon on Tuesday, November 26, said the House of Representatives is to blame for the mishaps in this year’s Southeast Asian Games which the country is hosting.

According to the opposition senator, the House of Representatives was late in submitting the proposed national budget in December, containing some P95 billion in pork barrel that fueled debates. This delay, some congressmen claimed, led to the SEAG blunders.

“If there was any delay, it was because of them,” Drilon said in Filipino.

Last December, some members of the House of Representatives were accused by Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo of employing diversionary tactics such as accusing Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno of irregularities in the preparation of the 2019 national budget.

Drilon, however, pointed out that there are only three opposition members in the Senate — not enough to delay the passage of the budget.

Furthermore, he said that even if the budget was delayed, most of the funds used for the SEA Games infrastructure were from separate loans.

“I really do not understand the relationship between the blunders and the budget delay,” Drilon said.

Some of the mishaps experienced before the official launch of the regional sports event include members of foreign delegations to the sporting event complaining about awful accommodations and delayed transportation after their arrival in the Philippines, inadequate food served to the athletes, and unfinished venues.

‘Apology not enough’

Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, for his part, said that the organizers of SEAG this year will be made “answerable” for “apparent inefficiencies” that happened in the past few days.

“They said before, the preparation, venues, and everything that will be used for the games were almost ready and complete. As of October 30, 2019, PHISGOC stated that preparations are 90% complete. How come these have happened?” he said in Filipino on Monday, Nov. 25.

“To all the parties, remember, one’s failure is the failure of us all. Let me remind everyone that you will be answerable to the President and most especially to the Filipino people,” he added.

The Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) on Sunday, Nov. 24, issued an apology to the foreign teams that arrived in Manila for the “inconvenience” and “confusion.”

“You can’t fix this with an apology. What we need to do is rouse everyone, we can’t be wimpy here,” Go said.

“I am, therefore, delivering this privilege speech to urge Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Philippine Olympic Committee, Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) and all Filipinos: don’t let this fail,” he added.

Go stressed that Filipinos should help one another instead of gloating at the organizers’ blunders and playing the blame game.

“It’s sad that many of our countrymen are clapping their hands for the wrong reasons. They give us applause because they want us to fail,” he said.

“Let’s help each other and show of support for our athletes. There is a right time for everything. No finger pointing at the moment. But after the Games, we’ll hold accountable those who need to be held accountable,” he added.

Go also said he is ready to conduct an investigation on any anomalies and irregularities that will arise during and after the games.

This will be the fourth time that the Philippines is hosting the biennial regional event in which athletes from 11 countries will compete. The 2019 SEA Games will officially open on Saturday, Nov. 30, and will run until December 11.

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