"And he is not even a sports buff."
Behold! The holier-than-thou, the self-proclaimed anti-graft crusader, may have finally been caught dipping his hands inside the cookie jar.
Earlier this week, President Rodrigo Duterte finally stepped in the issue confronting the hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games, not only barring the private organization Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) Foundation Inc. from interfering with the biennial sport events, but also insinuated on investigating the foundation headed by Alan Peter Cayetano.
While not known to be really a sports buff, Cayetano tried to snatch the organizing of the SEA Games from legitimate sports bodies, the Philippine Olympic Committee and Philippine Sports Commission.
Cayetano organized the Phisgoc, placing four of his most trusted minions in the board to ensure control over the foundation.
In his column, former colleague Julius Manicad of the Daily Tribune identified the Cayetano subalterns as (a) Donaldo Caringal, the Taguig lawmaker’s “boyhood pal at La Salle Zobel;”
(b) Ramon Suzara, the Physical Education teacher of Cayetano and Caringal. He was also “the former Philippine Superliga president whose ties with his volleyball colleagues were reportedly severed by financial issues and other accusations hurled against him;”
(c) Monica Ann Mitra, grand daughter of the late Speaker Ramon Mitra and niece of Games and Amusement Board Chair Baham Mitra. According to Manicad, “you have to go through her first if you want to reach the lawmaker from Taguig, if at all;” and,
(d) Dexter Estacio, a graphic artist at the Taguig City Hall, but he was elected as treasurer of Phisgoc who has control over the billions of pesos that the Foundation would raise through.” sponsorships, donations, subsidies and, yes, government money.
“He was also alleged to be one of the passengers of the helicopter that took aerial shots of the so-called Hacienda Binay in Rosario town in Batangas. The photos taken there played a crucial role in the demolition plot aimed at thwarting the presidential bid of former Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay in 2016.”
According to reports, the Phisgoc Foundation took over the functions of the POC and made decisions on its own, including the creation of the SEA Games’ official logo, theme, mascot and other marketing collaterals without the approval of the POC board.
Taking over the organizing of the SEA Games, the Cayetano-led Phisgoc reportedly asked PSC to release P59.2 million just for the apparel to be used by the Filipino athletes for the December games.
According to politiko.com.ph, Phisgoc has commissioned foreign sportswear manufacturer Asics to dress the Filipino athletes to the tune of P41,160 per set of uniform.
The breakdown is as follows: Polo shirt—P5,150; round-neck shirt—P2,480; track jacket—P6,310; track pants—P7,400; shorts—P5,100; socks—P2,700; backpack—P3,190; running shoes—P3,950; and cap—P2,400.
Even with the exorbitant prices of the sports apparel, Cayetano even had the guts to deny they were overpriced as he accused critics of muddling the issue by comparing the unit prices of the items requested to the unit prices of the supplies sold at stores.
He also refused to clarify what materials were the sports uniform made of especially the P2,700 pair of socks except to say the quality of sportswear that Asics agreed to provide to the athletes were far superior from what was found in stores.
With the way he tried to run the SEA Games, we won’t be surprised if the P2-million turon which landed in the headlines years ago during the De Venecia Speakership would make a comeback, probably at a much higher price tag should Cayetano end up Speaker on Monday.