President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday that the mishaps and shortcomings
in the country’s hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games could have been avoided if the P6-billion fund was used “correctly.”
The President, who earlier apologized to athletes who had experienced inconveniences, said there was negligence on the part of organizers who failed to prepare for “unforeseen events.”
“If you would ponder on it, it’s actually negligence or unforeseen events that you failed to prepare for,” he said in a TV interview on the program “Unang Hirit.”
The President earlier ordered an investigation
into the alleged irregularities in the country’s hosting of the SEA Games
, as athletes and members of the media complained of accreditation, accommodation, food, facilities, and transportation woes.
But he exonerated House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who chairs the organizing committee, from allegations of corruption even before the Palace investigation started.
The President noted that snafus could have been prevented if there was adequate planning since the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) had “many years to prepare.”
“It was a huge sum...You had so many years to prepare for it. So how come that it all happened?” he said.
“And even in the food, and in the billeting of the hotel that caused confusion. These things could have been avoided if you used the money correctly,” the President added.
The President was among thousands of spectators who attended the opening of the SEA Games at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan Saturday night.
The Palace earlier asked the organizers to rectify the errors in the country’s hosting of the SEA Games and offer “better services” and agreed with critics that there was indeed something wrong with the preparations.
The Palace on Monday congratulated Filipino athletes who won medals in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, saying it is pleased that their hard work is paying off.
“We congratulate our athletes who have won and brought honor to the country in this ongoing biennial multi-sport event,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
As of Monday, the Philippines had the most number of medals among 11 competing countries.
Panelo also expressed support for local athletes who will compete in the next few days.
President Duterte will give incentives to and confer the Order of Lapu-Lapu on Filipino athletes who bag medals.
The Philippines is fielding more than 1,000 athletes for the regional games.
The country won its first SEA Games overall championship in 2005 when it hosted the regional sports meet for the third time.
Meanwhile, the Palace said Davao City Mayor Sara-Duterte Carpio was right in saying that the song played during the opening rites of the 30th Southeast Asian Games does not represent the entire Philippines.
President Duterte’s daughter criticized the song choice “Manila,” which was played during the opening rites of the games held at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan Saturday night since it is not “inclusive.”
“The Mayor is right. We have to have a song that will reflect not only Manila but the entire Philippines: Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao. The songwriters, including myself, are being alerted to make such a song,” Panelo said.
The song “Manila,” which reflects the sentiments of a man who has spent time overseas and wants to return home, was a 1976 pop hit.
In her post, Duterte-Carpio questioned the use of the song when the athletes represent the entire Philippines, not just Manila.
The Palace official, however, recognized that the crowd liked the song.
When it was played, even President Duterte got up on his feet, grooved, and clapped his hands.
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