MANILA — Funds are flowing into an alleged "smear" campaign against the Philippines' hosting of the Southeast Asian Games, its chief organizer, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano claimed Thursday.
"Four or 5" websites are continuously publishing "fake news" on the regional event, said Cayetano, who heads Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHIGSOC), the private entity that led preparations for the competition.
"Ilan sa media umamin sa amin na may umaagos na pera na siraan ang (some members of the media confided to us that money is flowing to discredit the) SEA Games," he told reporters at Club Filipino, San Juan.
"They want to perpetuate the lie. Is the hosting perfect? No. But is it good? It's very good," he added.
Cayetano said he was considering filing libel charges against those behind the alleged disinformation campaign.
"They tried to smear my name or any personality. Okay lang kasi personal 'yan. But you try to smear the name of the SEA Games or of the country, dapat naman humarap ka," he said.
(That okay because that's personal. But if you try to smear the name of the SEA Games or of the country, you should face consequences.)
Cayetano said false news on the SEA Games included reports that athletes were served kikiam, a street food snack, instead of chicken sausage.
It was however Let Dimzon, the coach of the Philippine Malditas, who claimed they were served kikiam at breakfast on Monday. News outlets quoted the official.
The hotel housing the women's football teams later claimed kikiam wasn't on the menu, and said they served chicken sausage.
Organizers of the SEA Games were also criticized for the lack of halal food options for Muslim delegates, problems with the athletes lodging and transportation, unfinished venues, and the accreditation of journalists, among others.
READY TO FACE PROBE
Cayetano said he was ready to face any investigation into the alleged irregularities as soon as the SEA Games wraps up on Dec. 12.
"Hold me accountable, hold the SEA Games organizing committee accountable. Hindi ako magtatago, ako'y haharap sa Senado, sa Ombudsman," said the Speaker.
(I won't hide, I will face the Senate, the Ombudsman.)
"I’m willing to look anyone in the eye ni singko wala kami kinita sa SEA Games," he added.
(We did not earn even a centavo in the SEA Games.)
FEUD WITH SENATORS
Cayetano earlier said opposition Sen. Franklin Drilon was partly to blame for the SEA Games woes, which the congressman attributed to a delay in the passage of this year's national budget.
Drilon fired back that the House of Representatives submitted the budget about 55 days late with alleged insertions that fueled debates.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, meanwhile, was quoted as saying in a media report as saying that the transfer of public funds to PHIGSOC was like the P10-billion pork barrel racket hatched by convicted businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
"'Di naman crime na meron kang hawak na (it is not a crime to hold) government funds," said Cayetano.
Senators, he said, also have "unlimited time" after the SEA Games to question its funding.
"Bakit ngayon nag-iingay? They want it to fail eh," said Cayetano.
"Has Sen. Drilon or Sen. Lacson condemned the fake news?Regaluhan ko sila lahat ng chicken sausage tapos sabihin nila kikiam," he said.
He also denied that organizers rejected the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos' offer to help serve halal food during the event.
"This is going to be a great hosting. You will be very very proud of your country, your athletes once matapos ang SEA Games," he added, addressing the public.
With a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News