President Rodrigo Duterte said mistakes in the Philippine hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games could have been avoided if the PHP6-billion budget for the multisport event was used “correctly.”
In a television interview on GMA’s Unang Hirit aired Monday morning, Duterte admitted that any hosting of large-scale events could never be perfect, but making most out of the fund could have minimized errors.
Ahead of its formal opening on November 30, the biennial meet was marred with problems related to accommodation, facilities, food, transportation among others.
“You can do it, not really with precision, but had you made most of the money then you could have avoided the critical situations, the mishaps,” Duterte said.
Duterte emphasized that the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) Foundation Inc. had at least two years to prepare for the multisport meet but failed to anticipate logistical problems.
“You had so many years to prepare for it. So how come na ganyan ang nangyari (that’s what happened)? And even in the food, and in the billeting of the hotel na hindi nila alam kung saang hotel (they don’t know which hotel),” Duterte said.
“These things could have been avoided if you used the money correctly,” he added.
He also criticized the need for Phisgoc to rely on private bus companies to transport athletes to their hotels and sporting venues for practice.
“You do not wait for the bus companies to send their buses to help you out,” Duterte said.
The President said he did not blame a particular person or group for the biennial event’s ill-preparedness, but pointed out that the “huge fund” should have been enough to avoid such problems.
“I am not attributing it to anybody but you know it’s a huge fund and there ought not to have problems like even logistics and things,” Duterte said.
“If you would ponder on it, it’s actually negligence or unforeseen events that you failed to prepare for,” he added.
Last week, Duterte said his office would look into alleged corruption and shortcomings in the hosting of the SEA Games.
The President said he would create a fact-finding body that will investigate the supposed mishandling of Phisgoc, chaired by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.
While he is convinced that the SEA Games’ mess was “unintentional,” Duterte said he wants to find out what went wrong when it comes to organizing the event.
Duterte said those who will be under investigation including Cayetano, will be accorded due process.
Hard work paying off
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo congratulated the Filipino athletes saying he was pleased to know that their hard work in training is paying off.
As of Dec. 2, 12 noon, the Philippines is leading the competition with 25 gold, 15 silver, and 9 bronze medals.
More than 1,000 Philippine athletes are competing in the SEA Games.
“We congratulate our athletes who have won and brought honor to the country in this ongoing biennial multisport event,” Panelo said in a statement.
He also wished the rest of our athletes who will be competing in the coming days good luck.
Panelo earlier praised the organizers, volunteers, and others who made a “job exceedingly done” in organizing the formal launch of the SEA Games at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan on Saturday night.
Despite early logistical troubles, Panelo stressed that the “superb” opening of the event merely proves that the Phisgoc is more than prepared in handling the biennial multisports event.
The President attended the opening ceremonies to officially declare 2019 SEA Games open, marking the fourth time the country hosted the biennial meet. The Philippines also hosted in 1981, 1991, and 2005. (PNA)