Malacañang on Thursday congratulated Filipino athletes for bagging the most number of medals with 149 golds in the just concluded 30th Southeast Asian Games.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo also congratulated all the SEA Games participants.
“All of you did a wonderful job giving pride and honor to your respective countries. Your very presence here alone means you are all winners,” Panelo said in a statement.
With 117 silvers and 121 bronzes, the Philippines bested other Southeast Asian countries in the biennial sports event from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.
Filipino athletes are expected to meet President Rodrigo Duterte as they will receive cash incentives for their victories.
Gold medalists will receive P300,000, as stated in Republic Act 10699. Those who bagged silver and bronze will receive P150,000 and P60,000, respectively.
Vietnam, which finished second in the medal tally, will host the next edition of the games. It bagged 98 gold, 85 silver, and 105 bronze medals.
Thailand came close with 92-103-123 medals, followed by Indonesia (72-84-111), Malaysia (55-58-71), Singapore (53-46-68), and Myanmar (4-18-51).
Trailing were Cambodia (4-6-36), Brunei (2-5-6), Laos (1-5-28), and Timor Leste (0-1-5).
“As we officially hand over the hosting chores of the 2021 SEA Games to Vietnam, we look back at the high emotions, the broken records, the blood, sweat and tears of our athletes and their coaches,” Panelo said.
Despite the successful showing in the SEA Games, allegations of corruption in the preparation for the event should not be set aside, Senator Panfilo Lacson said.
He said the successes of the athletes is separate from the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee, which has been dogged by controversy.
“We shouldn’t mix up the triumph of the athletes with the PHISGOC issue,” Lacson said in Filipino.
He said Congress had a mandate to provide oversight into the problems experienced during the Games.
Lacson added that Senate could conduct its own investigation despite the ongoing probe by the Office of the Ombudsman.
He said the Senate should look into the transfer of government funds by the Philippine Sports Commission to PHISGOC, a private foundation.
Lacson said this is a contentious because government funds cannot be transferred to a private organization. He cited the graft conviction of former Isabela governor Grace Padaca who moved the provincial government funds to a private foundation.
He said this is similar to the transfer of government funds of some Congress members to private foundations established by pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles.
Senator Pia Cayetano, meanwhile, said the successful hosting of the SEA Games was an opportunity to showcase the skill and ability of Filipino athletes to win as one.
The senator was among the thousands of spectators who flocked to the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac, on Wednesday night to witness the grand closing ceremony.
“I cannot be any prouder. If I was an athlete, I could ask for nothing more,” she said. “I think they did an amazing job.”
Cayetano said the Philippines’ claiming of the overall championship was made possible by the government’s readiness to invest in sports development, particularly in building new world-class facilities in New Clark City; refurbishing old ones such as the 84-year-old Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila and the Philsports Arena in Pasig City; and showcasing other areas for sports tourism, including Subic and Clark in Central Luzon, La Union in Northern Luzon, and Biñan City and Tagaytay City in Southern Tagalog.
Cayetano is the sister of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who headed PHISGOC.
In the House, the leftist Makabayan bloc also sought an inquiry into the country’s hosting of the 30th SEA Games.
In House Resolution 602, the group led by Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate urged the House committee good government and public accountability to probe the use of public funds allocated to host the biennial meet.
“It is the primordial duty of the Congress, in the exercise of its legislative and oversight functions, to ensure that the people’s money was utilized for the benefit of the Filipino people and not wasted due to government inefficiency and corruption,” the Makabayan bloc said in the resolution.
“As legislators, it is one of our duties to promote full transparency in all government transactions, to look into the causes and results of successful and unsuccessful projects and programs implemented by the executive and to help the government learn from its mistakes in pursuance of efficient service delivery for the people,” the group added.
On Monday, Cayetano welcomed the looming Ombudsman investigation into the conduct of the SEA Games.
Cayetano said the investigation will put an end to the criticisms and other snide comments about the games’ organizers made mostly be “administration haters” in the social media.
He said the Ombudsman investigation will give the organizers an opportunity to put to rest all questions about the games.
House leaders on Thursday lauded the “inspiring and exemplary” performance of the Filipino athletes who took part in the Games.
“The Philippines victory is the result of hard work on the part of the sports officials, coaches, trainers but most of all the athletes who gave everything to bring honors to the country,” said Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez.
Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villfuerte said the country’s 149-gold-medal haul was proof that with proper support and training of athletes at a young age, the country can eventually produce Olympic champions.
Also on Thursday, the Philippine National Police said they would remain on alert as some foreign delegations are expected to extend their stay in the country.
PNP spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said stricter security measures will remain a priority concern for some athletes game officials and guests who signified their intention to visit tourist destinations in the country.
PNP officer-in-charge Police Lt. Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa, ordered the PNP security contingent for the 30th SEA Games to maintain police visibility and readiness to provide assistance to athletes, officials and guests, particularly in the movement of outbound delegates from the games and billeting venues to the airport.
“The mission ends only until after the last foreign delegate has left the country,” he said.
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by manilastandard.net readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of manilastandard.net. While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.