Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Monday questioned the P50-million estimated cost of the stadium cauldron that will be lit during the opening ceremonies for the Southeast Asian Games.
Drilon said the money could have been used to build 50 classrooms.
“A P50-million kaldero [cauldron]. Do you realize that at P1 million per classroom this can build 50 classrooms?” Drilon asked during the deliberations for the proposed 2020 budget of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.
“In other words, we did away with 50 classrooms in exchange for one kaldero. Is this a correct conclusion?
“Is that reasonable? Is that a correct prioritization? We will spend P50 million for the kaldero that will be used only once?”
Earlier, Drilon pressed the BCDA over the cost of the stadium cauldron that would be used during the 30th SEA Games, which will be hosted by the Philippines from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.
Senator Sonny Angara, who was defending the BCDA’s 2020 budget, said the design cost of the cauldron amounted to P4.4 million while its foundation cost P13.4 million.
He said the production of the cauldron was under the Philippine Sports Commission and was designed by the late Filipino architect Bobby Mañosa.
Drilon then asked if the total cost of building the cauldron was P32 million, and to which Angara said yes.
Drilon then computed a round figure of P50 million for the stadium cauldron, which included the cost of the design and the foundation.
“A classroom costs P1 million, so we could have built 56 classrooms if the money of the people was not abused,” he said.
Angara defended the cost.
“I think what the government is really envisioning was to do a really impressive hosting of the games and showcase Philippine ingenuity by using Philippine creative designers and performers,” Angara said.
“I think this is what other Southeast Asian countries have also done when it was their turn to host [the games].”
He said the facilities would be made available for rent after the games.
Meanwhile, Senator Panfilo Lacson sponsored the proposed PP553.661-million budget of the Dangerous Drugs Board, which is lower than the 2019 budget.
The lower budget was due to many factors, including the non-recurring funding for the nationwide survey on the extent of drug abuse in the Philippines.
Lacson also sponsored the PP2.480-billion budget of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, which is higher than the current year’s budget.
The Breakdown of the DDB and PDEA’s 2020 Budgets:
The proposed appropriation for the DDB is P553.661 million. From P283.006 million in the NEP, it was increased under the GAB as transmitted by the House to P533.6 million.
The Senate added another P20 million to augment the fund for the program monitoring and evaluation of the Philippine Anti-Illegal Drug Strategy (PADS).
While the Senate Finance Subcommittee C proposed adding P200 million to support the institutionalization of PADS, the mother committee adopted only P20 million.
Meanwhile, the proposed appropriation of the PDEA is P2.480 billion from P2.380 billion in the NEP and GAB.
Lacson said the DDB continued to improve the system of its drug information portal, which disseminates knowledge of the anti-drug campaign.
When asked to assess the DDB’s drug abuse and prevention program on a scale of 1 to 10, Lacson gave it an ‘8.’