READ: Logistical snafu greets athletes
The investigation will include House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano since he chairs the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee, as well as the controversial P50-million stadium cauldron, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
The Palace official said the President was “displeased” upon hearing the mishaps in the regional games while he was in South Korea to attend the summit.
“I talked with him last night. He was displeased with what’s happening so he said they should fix it and we won’t be embarrassed to other countries. He said they will be held accountable,” Panelo said in an interview with state-run Radyo Pilipinas.
“The President will investigate into irregularities, incompetence or corruption that were reported in the newspapers,” Panelo added.
Both foreign and local athletes have complained about problems with accommodation, food, facilities, and transportation. Media practitioners also complained about the inefficient accreditation process.
These blunders prompted Phisgoc and Malacañang to issue an apology.
Despite the bad press, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda on Wednesday said there will be a “tidal wave of reversal” of public sentiment on the Philippines’ hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games once the opening ceremonies take place on Nov. 30.
Salceda said the Philippine 2019 hosting is expected to be the biggest in the history of the biennial event with 56 sports and 530 events to be contested by more than 11,000 athletes and team officials.
“These games will make you proud as a Filipino... Those who are negative about it, you will eat your own words,” Salceda said in a mix of English and Filipino.
“Hosting an international multi-sport event is a matter of national pride. There is no price tag for that. It will showcase our people, our culture, and our values. It also benefits the country’s efforts in tourism foreign investment and international sports tourism industry,” Salceda said.
The current budget allocated for the hosting of the 30th SEA Games is P6 billion—a large amount but “not excessive,” Salceda said.
He said Singapore spent the equivalent of P12 billion in 2015 for hosting 36 sports and 402 events, while Malaysia invested P6.3 billion for hosting 39 sports and 404 events in 2017.
“After the 30th SEA Games, there is a greater opportunity, with a lot of economic returns to bid for bigger international multi-sport events like the 2022 Asian Indoor Martial Arts, 2030 Asian Games or even one day the Olympic Games,” Salceda said.
“The Philippines will even host the FIBA World Cup 2023 even if there are great but limited facilities available,” he added.
He said the New Clark City Athletics Stadium and Aquatics Center, the flagship venue of the 30th SEA Games, including the Athletes Village which can house 1,575 athletes, will continue to be used by local athletes for their training.
House leaders on Wednesday appealed to critics to set aside their complaints until after the regional event is over.
Deputy Majority Leader and Camiguin Rep. Xavier Jesus Romualdo, Salceda, and Bulacan Rep. Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado defended Cayetano, chairman of the Phisgoc, saying the tirades were unfair and could hurt morale among Filipino athletes.
“We should withhold judgment on our hosting of the SEA Games until after it is over,” said Romualdo. “Our assessment should based on the entirety of our hosting and not just on some shortcomings at the start of the games. That’s why I think it’s not fair to overly criticize Speaker Cayetano and the organizers at this point.”
“We should see first what they have in store for everyone for the entire duration of our hosting and allow them to do their thing,” he added.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III recalled that when he was a player, then a coach of the national bowling team, they spent for their meals and even lodging.
READ: Speaker blames senator for SEAG budget delay
Reacting to criticism of the food being offered to athletes, Sotto said the organizers of the SEA Games were being “too hospitable.”
Sotto competed in the 1970s and early 1980s when he said host countries even tried to make other teams “uncomfortable” so that they would lose.
“Why do you think the host country always wins? The host country is not supposed to feed them, etc., etc., etc. We spent for our meals and other expenses, even lodging,” Sotto said.
“There are times when we should stop bickering about petty things!” he added, railing at criticism on social media.
In his time, he said, accommodations usually meant dormitories.
“Here they have hotels, and food,” he said, noting this was much better compared to other countries.
The Metro Manila Development Authority and Manila District Traffic Enforcement Unit will close the following roads from 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.
• Along Adriatico—from President Quirino to P. Ocampo (both bound directions)
• Along P. Ocampo—from Taft Ave. to Adriatico (westbound direction only)
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