MANILA (UPDATE) - House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday slammed opposition leaders for their "hypocrisy" in criticizing the government's decision to spend some P6 billion to host the 30th Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines.
Former President Benigno Aquino III and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon earlier said spending some P50 million for a cauldron was an "unnecessary extravagance."
The previous administration asked for a P10-billion budget to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Manila in 2015, said Cayetano, who also chairs the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC).
"Ang sinasabi ko lang yung hypocrisy na nung P10 billion ang hiningi nila sa Kongreso, para sa APEC, [sabi nila] para sa bayan ito, representasyon ito, karangalan ito. We have to spend on known artists and singers. We have to serve good food para maganda representasyon," Cayetano said.
(What I am saying is that there is hypocrisy. When they asked Congress for P10 billion to host the APEC, they said it is for the country, for representation, for honor.)
"'Yun nakita nila at justified nila pero yung P50-million na priceless work of art na forever pagmamay-ari ng gobyerno, sasabihin nila sana 50 classrooms na lang?," he said in a press conference in Tarlac.
(They recognized that and justified that, but when it comes to the P50-million priceless work of art that will be forever owned by the government, they would say we could have had 50 classrooms instead?)
Drilon should not bring up the issue that the country needs more classrooms because the classroom shortage worsened under the Aquino Administration, Cayetano said.
"Sen. Drilon forgot na it's their administration na nagpilit ng K-12 kaya nagkulang na naman ng classroom," he said.
The House Speaker also blasted Aquino for criticizing the country's hosting of the SEA Games, instead of being proud that his home province Tarlac was one of the main venues of the international event.
"I was expecting na sasabihin niya na may issues, pag-usapan natin later pero proud kami na dito itinayo sa Tarlac," Cayetano said.
"Akala nila SEA Games, seafood eh. Kaya puro crab mentality ang inaabot natin eh," he said.
Responding to Cayetano, Aquino’s spokesperson Abigail Valte said criticizing the cost of the cauldron is not the same as criticizing the SEA Games.
In a statement to ABS-CBN News, Valte said, “False equivalence yan. Questioning the price tag of your kaldero is not equal to criticizing hosting the SEA Games, so don’t put kaldero and APEC hosting together.”
Valte slammed Cayetano for the latter’s remarks. “It’s a shame Speaker Cayetano has chosen to equate fulfilling our international commitment of hosting APEC (one which brought the country positive attention) to what Rep. Salceda refers to as an 'Imeldific' kaldero. Maybe because the 50-million peso kaldero, like APEC, can bring together 21 world leaders to focus on the PH growth agenda? Oh wait. It can’t? “
Valte added that the Aquino administration built over 66,000 classrooms from 2010-2016.
Drilon earlier said he will seek a Senate inquiry to see how game organizers spent the P6-billion fund.
The 30th SEA Games is set to formally begin on November 30.
- with a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News