MANILA (UPDATE) - House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday justified the P45-million price tag of the Southeast Asian Games cauldron, after a Senate leader described it as an “unnecessary extravagance.”
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon earlier said about 56 classrooms could have been constructed with the fund, instead of building a multi-million cauldron that will only be used once to mark the opening of the international sporting event in the Philippines later this month.
Drilon said the cauldron was worth P55 million.
The Philippines’ SEA Games cauldron is “cheaper” than Singapore’s P62-million piece, said Cayetano, who also chairs the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC).
“Ang cauldron ay isang monumento. Isa itong simbolo. Isa itong work of art. Ito ay isang requirement sa lahat ng games because it symbolizes the games’ competition, spirit,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the Senate budget hearings.
“Is it expensive? Yes... [But] It is not overpriced and it’s not excessive.” he said.
Cayetano said the cauldron - designed by National Artist for Architecture Francisco “Bobby” Mañosa - was not just a large caserole, but a towering structure that would keep the SEA Games’ symbolic flame burning for 11 days.
The cauldron itself amounts to P7 million, but a P18-million mechanism is required to keep the flame lit for about 264 straight hours, the House Speaker said.
Another P17 million is allocated for the development of the monument’s site, he said.
“Whether or not nandun yung cauldron, aayusin yun kasi nandun yung coliseum,” he said, referring to the New Clark City Athletics Stadium and Aquatic Center in Capas Tarlac.
The government needs to spend another P5 million to fuel the contraption for 11 days, he said.
The country should not skimp on building monumental markers as these “enhance” and “add value” to areas of development,” he said, noting that flights to Clark have increased after it was marketed as the venue of the 2019 SEA Games.
The cauldron and other SEA Games facilities can also be used in the future when the Philippines hosts the Asian Games, he said.
“We’re ready to be audited,” Cayetano said.
“But let’s do the auditing after the games,” he said.