MANILA - Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Tuesday questioned the need to spend P9.5 billion for the development of the New Clark City, one of the venues of the 30th Southeast Asian Games this November and December.
Of the 56 sports in the SEA Games, only swimming and track and field will be held in the New Clark City Athletics Stadium and Aquatic Center in Capas, Tarlac, Drilon told lawmakers during the Philippine Sports Commission’s budget hearing in the Senate.
“The policy issue is do we have to spend P9.5 billion facilities when in fact we could have spend P1.2-B to refurbish Rizal Memorial Coliseum?” Drilon said.
A new track will only cost P200 million, while building the bleachers and other facilities surrounding the track is pegged at P1 billion, Drilon said citing estimates provided by Philippine Sports Commission Chair William Ramirez.
“We feel that we could successfully host the games at much less expense,” he said.
CLASS 1 FACILITY
But Senator Pia Cayetano, a former student athlete, said Filipino athletes deserve to have a Class 1 sports facility in their home country.
“The national track team was crying when they stepped on the turf,” Cayetano said, noting that the team has been practicing in run-down provincial tracks.
The new sports hub boasts of 9 400-meter tracks for competitions, 4 outdoor lanes for warm-ups and another 2 100-meter indoor lanes.
It also has a 50-meter pool with 10 lanes and a separate 8-lane swimming facility for warm-ups.
It can seat up to 20,000 people.
“It seems excessive until you learn that these are the requirements to be first class,” she said.
“Ganun talaga if we want to host the event and if we want to treat the athletes the heroes we say they are,” she said.
‘NOT A WHITE ELEPHANT’
The stadium will not be a “white elephant,” House Speaker and Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) Foundation Inc. Chair Alan Peter Cayetano said.
Several multi-million stadiums in Brazil and Russia have deteriorated due to under-use years these athletic stages hosted large, international sporting events like the FIFA World Cup.
The stadium in Tarlac can be used for concerts, the House Speaker said.
With 20,000 seats, it can earn as much as P20 million per event, he said.
The dormitories also have 1,500 beds, he said.
“Kung hindi gagamitin ng atleta yan, puwede ipagamit sa empleyado ng Clark,” he said.
The country can also save money now that national athletes can train in a Tier 1 facility in Tarlac instead of sending them abroad, Sen. Cayetano said.
Senate Games, Amusement and Sports Chair Christopher “Bong” Go earlier said the stadium can also be incorporated in his proposed National Academy of Sports.