MANILA (UPDATE) - The Senate, particularly Sen. Franklin Drilon, is "partly to blame" for the delay in the budget of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games which then caused mishaps in the country's hosting, a lawmaker-athlete said Monday.
1PACMAN Party-list Rep. Mikee Romero attributed logistical issues in the country's hosting of the SEA Games to the delay of the 2019 budget, which President Rodrigo Duterte signed only in April.
"Unfortunately the Senate had a lot of problems and na-delay ng 5 to 6 months yung budget. Lahat 'to was caused by that delay. Sen. Drilon is also partly to blame probably because the delay was caused on their side, not on the House side," Romero told ANC's "Headstart."
"If they have approved it and the budget was already available last January, all these mishaps might not have happened."
Drilon called Romero's comments "an insult," saying his accusations are "misplaced and baseless."
"This is an insult to the leadership of the Senate," the senator said in a statement Monday.
"Mr. Romero should refrain from issuing irresponsible and baseless statements," he added.
Drilon explained that the delay in the passage of the 2019 budget was not because of the Senate, but because of the insertions made by the House of Representatives.
"Kung pinayagan po nating makalusot itong P95.3 billion pork barrel, kaya nitong punuin yung P50-million kaldero sa SEA Games," Drilon said.
The senator also boasted that his efforts paved the way for the resolution of the 2019 budget impasse.
"Had it not been for my efforts, certain quarters in the administration would have pushed through with recommending to the President the veto of the entire 2019 budget," Drilon said.
At least four countries--Myanmar, Timor-Leste, Cambodia, and Thailand--encountered transportation and accommodation problems following their arrival in the country over the weekend, prompting the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) to apologize.
Drilon was the first to flag the P50 million worth of cauldron that would be used in the SEA Games' opening ceremony on Nov. 30, and the government's transfer of P700 million to private foundation PHISGOC, headed by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.
Romero, however, said giving funds to a private foundation was "being done all over the world, even in the Olympics."
"They put [up] a foundation like sa London, the London Olympic Games Foundation. Usually, you give it to the POC (Philippine Olympic Committee) and sila ang gagawa ng masterplan," he said.
"This time we put up PHISGOC kasi nga gusto ni Presidente and at that time Department of Foreign Affairs Sec. Alan Peter na world-class, which we are achieving at this point in time. It is done all over the world."
Romero added that the cauldron "symbolizes the spirit of the SEA Games" and everything athletes train for.
"'Pag na-extinguish na yung fire dyan, na-extinguish na rin yung dreams mo, either you win or lose," he said.
The lawmaker, who plays for the national polo team, called for a political ceasefire during the 11-day event.
"As athletes pag nakikita naming may mga problema our morale goes down so you have to set politics aside in this case," he said. "Our goal is to achieve 100 golds for this country."