White elephant? Lawmaker eyes probe of SEA Games spending


Posted at Nov 21 2019 11:14 AM | Updated as of Nov 21 2019 11:35 AM

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Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Thursday said he will seek a Senate inquiry on the mounting of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in the Philippines, including the construction of a P50 million cauldron (kaldero) at New Clark City. 

"We will look at every angle, whether or not there is propriety, luxury, graft or corruption," he said in an ANC Headstart interview, adding that government auditors must look at the SEA Games expenses after the event. 

Drilon said the government is spending some P10.5 billion for the construction of New Clark City and other facilities plus another P5 billion for the hosting of the biennial event. 

The funds for the P50 million "kaldero", he said, were included in the budget of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority as a lumpsum. The design for the cauldron by the late National Artist Francisco Mañosa was pegged at P4.48 million; foundation of the structure was pegged at P13.44 million and the construction at P32 million.

Drilon questioned the propriety of spending so much on the cauldron, saying none of the funds will go into athletes' training. "It is clear that there are priorities that are not being addressed," he said. 

Gretchen Malalad, a 2005 Southeast Asian Games karate gold medalist and freelance journalist, said the P50 million could have been spent on the food budget of athletes. 

"The athletes don’t need a 50M cauldron. Come on! 'Yang kaldero na 'yan dapat nilagay sa budget ng kalderong pangkain! Idagdag niyo na lang sana sa food budget ng atleta. O di kaya para sa training. #supportourathletes," she said. 

Drilon also noted those attending the opening ceremony of the SEA Games at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan will only see the lighting of the SEA Games torch via broadcast feed since the actual cauldron is 95 kilometers away. 

More importantly, he said the BCDA must present how it plans to maintain the new facilities and generate revenue to avoid the fate of other sports facilities around the world that became white elephants after a major sporting event.