Malacañang is leaving it to a House of Representatives panel whether it would investigate the alleged corruption and irregularities in the use of government funds during the 30th Southeast Asian Games that the Philippines hosted in 2019, an official said Sunday.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque issued the statement after the House's Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability chairman Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado said his panel was open to the calls for an inquiry into how billions of pesos were used by the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee lead by then Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.
Although the Office of the Ombudsman in December created a fact-finding committee to probe those who handled the funds, Roque said, the House panel was also free to conduct its own probe on the issues hounding the biennial sports meet.
"We note that the Office of the Ombudsman had created a panel last year to carry out a fact-finding probe in our hosting of the 2019 SEA
Games. We welcome this move of the OMB in the same way that we leave the matter to the House of Representatives to conduct an investigation, if need be, on the use of government funds during last year’s SEA Games," Roque said.
Roque, meanwhile, reminded the panel not to discredit the efforts made by the Filipino athletes for bringing pride and honor to the country as well as the preparations and execution done by the Phisgoc in the country’s hosting of the regional sporting event.
"The 30th Southeast Asian Games showcased not only our local athletes at their best but also demonstrated our successful hosting of a world-class sporting event. Let us, therefore, not dishonor the men and women who gave honor and glory to the country by engaging in political innuendos and witch hunts," Roque said.
Last Saturday, Sy-Alvarado said they would be open to a hearing on the issue as long as there was a referral to the panel.
However, he said, he was not aware of any resolution that had been filed seeking an investigation.
In a TV interview, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said he was also open to an investigation if a resolution were filed.
“Kung may nag-file na po ng resolusyon sa Congress, wala po tayong magagawa kung di ihi-hear po ito,” Velasco told GMA-7’s Unang Hirit on Oct. 19.
Around P6 billion was allocated for the country’s fourth hosting of the SEA Games from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, 2019. The Philippines also hosted the Games in 1981, 1991 and 2005, when it won the overall title.
Phisgoc earlier received criticisms for inconveniences on transport, lodging and other logistical issues experienced by foreign athletes prior to the formal opening of the SEA Games on Nov. 30, 2019.
Its decision to spend P50 million for the construction and design of a stadium cauldron for the SEA Games also drew flak from the public. The cauldron was designed by the late Filipino architect Bobby Mañosa.
The design of the cauldron, which is three meters in diameter, cost P4.48 million, while the 50-meter high foundation cost P13.4 million.
The total cost of construction was pegged at P32 million.
Early this month, Philippine Sports Commission Executive Director Guillermo Iroy Jr. also said Phisgoc still owed P387 million to some of the suppliers mobilized for the country's hosting of the sporting event.