Cayetano on SEA Games mess: Hold me accountable

Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) chairman, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday said he is ready to face any investigation into the controversies surrounding the country's hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games.

"Hold me accountable. SEA Games Organizing Committee accountable. Hindi ako magtatago. Ako po haharap sa Senado, sa Ombudsman (I won't hide. I would show up at the Senate, the Ombudsman)," Cayetano said.

Cayetano noted that he would show up at any investigation on the issues hounding the SEA Games after the events are done.

"Allow us to have successful games. Pagkatapos ng SEA Games, kahit anong imbestigasyon, kahit anong mahanap (After the SEA Games, any investigation, any finding, [I'm ready to face it])," he said.

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President Rodrigo Duterte is looking to probe allegations of corruption hounding the Philippines’ hosting of the biennial meet.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte was “displeased” by what he has been hearing about the regional multi-sport, which will run from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.

Foreign and local athletes and journalists have complained of problems with accommodation, food, facilities, transportation, among others.

“The President is not pleased by what he has been hearing about the certain snafu, certain delays, certain allegations of athletes not being fed properly, of athletes arriving late or not on time delivered to their places of rest or residence. He's displeased,” Panelo said in a televised interview.

“Ayaw niya 'yun (He doesn’t want that). And there were allegations of fraud na lumalabas sa diyaryo. Ayaw niya rin 'yun (coming out on the newspapers. He doesn’t want that either). He wants to investigate that. Hindi uubra sa kanya ang corruption (He won’t tolerate corruption),” Panelo added.

Panelo, however, said any investigation should be done after the event as he encouraged the public to watch and support the athletes competing in the 12-day biennial meet.

On Tuesday, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) chair Dante Jimenez said there would be an immediate investigation into the supposed blunders hounding the SEA Games once a complaint is lodged before his office.

While a complaint has yet to be filed, Jimenez said the PACC may launch a “motu proprio” (on its own) investigation into the supposed mistakes committed by SEA Games organizers.

Everything is aboveboard


Phisgoc executive director Ramon Suzara assured that all expenses pertaining to the hosting of the Games are aboveboard.

“Everything is above board. We have nothing to hide. House Speaker Cayetano will not allow this SEA Games to be tainted with irregularities,” Suzara told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) after the Phisgoc press conference at the World Trade Center on Wednesday.

Suzara said he understands the President’s displeasure over the negative stories hounding the country’s fourth hosting of the SEA Games.

“Well, if I were the President, of course with all the bad news. But hindi naman totoo (But these bad news are not true),” he said during the media briefing.

He thanked Duterte for the “all-out” support the Chief Executive extended for the hosting of the Games to be participated in by almost 10,000 athletes and officials from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste, and Vietnam.

Suzara earlier said the PHP6-billion budget, including the PHP1 billion augmentation fund approved by Duterte, complied with all the stringent requirements of the Department of Budget and Management.

He said not a single centavo of government funds is handled by Phisgoc, a private entity that handled the organization and preparation of the SEA Games which the Philippines also hosted in 1981, 1991 and 2005.

“All government funds are duly accounted for and are being disbursed in accordance with procurement procedures,” Suzara said in a previous statement.

The Phisgoc official said all the glitches encountered by the foreign athletes and other issues have been resolved days before the SEA Games officially kicks off on Saturday (Nov. 30) at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

“Two days ago, we had a chef de mission meeting, the first one here, and we tackled all the issues, the complaints, the requests and problems of the chef de mission and we have resolved everything,” Suzara said.

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