The chairman of the House ways and means committee said Monday the P55-million cauldron for the torch lighting ceremony of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games was grandiose in scale but was “proportional to the new and bolder character of the Filipino… coming of age and breaking into the field of emerging tigers.”
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda was reacting to criticism from Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, who said the cost of the cauldron could have gone to building 50 classrooms.
READ: Drilon stews over Games cauldron
But Salceda said the budget for the SEA Games, which the Philippines is hosting this year, was a lump sum item in the 2019 national budget.
He added that he thought the P5-billion budget for the purpose was reasonable.
Malacañang, meanwhile, appealed to the public not to “prejudge” House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano over the P55-million stadium cauldron constructed for the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
Cayetano, as head of the Philippine SEA Games Organizational Committee Foundation Inc., tasked to oversee the country’s hosting of regional games, can defend the use of funds for the cauldron,
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
“Speaker Alan is accountable to all that relates to the SEA Games. Whatever was done, of course, he was in charge. He is accountable,” Panelo told Palace reporters.
“Meanwhile, let’s not prejudge. You know, it’s easy to accuse,” Panelo added.
The cauldron stirred controversy Monday when Drilon questioned the expense.
“Is that reasonable? Is that a correct prioritization? We will spend P50 million for the kaldero that will be used only once?” he said.
Drilon said he would ask the Senate to look into the construction of the cauldron, as well as the Commission on Audit to undertake a special audit on all the funds spent for the SEA Games.
Designed by the late Thomasian architect Francisco “Bobby” Mañosa, the cauldron is 50-meters high and three meters in diameter.
The stadium cauldron will be lit for the biennial meet from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 this year.
Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines will enforce a no-fly zone in the surrounding areas of the Philippine Arena in Bo aue, Bulacan, and New Clark City, in Pampanga in connection with the country’s hosting of the 30th SEA Games.
CAAP issued notices to airmen from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, implementing a “no-fly zone.”
The measure, which will restrict all aircraft operations within three nautical miles and restrict general aviation flights within 40 nautical miles of the two venues from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., will take effect during the opening and closing ceremonies of the event.
Meanwhile, close to 15,000 policemen will be deployed to provide security for the sports events that will be held in Metro Manila.
The decision to deploy 14,800 cops was made after the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee said that 12 sports venues in Metro Manila will host 22 out of the SEA Games’ 56 sports disciplines.
Aside from Metro Manila, the SEA Games venues are Laguna, Bulacan, Tagaytay, Subic, and New Clark City sports complex in Capas, Tarlac.
More than 10,000 athletes from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Timor Leste, Singapore, and Vietnam will participate in 543 sports events.
The Philippines will host for the fourth time the SEA Games from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 this year.
The country won its first-ever SEA Games overall championship in 2005, the last time it hosted the biennial meet. The Philippines also hosted the 1981 and 1991 editions.
Government security forces beefed-up by force multipliers have been dispatched to secure all venues for the 30th Southeast Asian Games 10 days ahead of the much-awaited international sports meet.
“A total of 11,000 police and military including volunteers have been posted to different SEAG venues,” said Police BGen. Rhodel Sermonia, head of the Task Group Central Luzon that oversees the security preparations and deployment of troops.
Sermonia reminded members of TG central Luzon to be vigilant in order to attain the ‘zero incident’ target during the 14-day competition.
NCRPO acting chief, Brig. Gen. Debold Sinas said the NCRPO will heighten police visibility at famous nightspots in the region as part of measures to secure the SEA Games.
In all, 15,801 NCRPO personnel would be deployed, Sinas said, particularly in the venues and hotels, where athletes and other delegations would be billeted.
Authorities are also arranging the deployment of K9 units in the sports venues to further strengthen the security, Sinas said.
Some 18,105 policemen will be deployed in Metro Manila, 6,554 in Central Luzon, 1,865 in Southern Luzon and 916 in La Union.
Aside from police officers, 20,000 personnel from different agencies will also be deployed for the augmentation for sports events of the SEA Games.
Over 10,000 athletes from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Timor Leste, Singapore, and Vietnam will participate in 543 sports events.
The country won its first-ever SEA Games overall championship in 2005, the last time it hosted the biennial meet.
Drilon on Tuesday remained skeptical about the “cauldron.”
“Do we need this so extravagant facility, which has nothing to do training? “ he said.
“That is not an expense for training. That is a luxury expense. All of these I don’t want to discuss any further. As I said, we want to support our athletes,” he said.