Palace to probe SEA Games hosting mess

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 28 2019 01:22 PM

Workers continue working on finishing touches to the Rizal Memorial Coliseum in Manila, November 27, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Malacañang will investigate irregularities in the Philippines' hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games following complaints from both local and foreign delegates.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who earlier expressed dismay over the reported issues, will most likely create a committee or assign a person to lead the Palace's own probe after the games, his spokesman Salvador Panelo said Thursday.

"Any complaint lodged in the Office of the President vis-a-vis any matter concerning the SEA Games will be subject to scrutiny," Panelo told reporters.

Transportation, accommodation, and food problems were reported by delegates days before the official opening of Games, resulting in a barrage of criticism online, prompting organizers to issue an apology.

The Palace acknowledged the mishaps pointed out by critics, saying the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC), which leads preparations for the Games, "should perform better services expected of them."

"The critics have a point. There is indeed something wrong with the preparations," Panelo said.

In the meantime, Panelo urged Filipinos to let the Games proceed without "the attendant raucous bashing."

"Our local athletes deserve our support. Let us welcome our foreign guests with the kind of warm hospitality we are known for," he said.


Earlier in the day, Panelo also assured Filipinos that House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who chairs PHISGOC, will be included in the Palace investigation.

Cayetano is Duterte's defeated running mate in the 2016 elections. A known ally of the President, he was initially appointed to lead the Department of Foreign Affairs before running for congressman.

"Given the character of this President, wala naman ditong kai-kaibigan e." 

(Given the character of this President, there's no friendship issue here.) 

"He fires people close to him. 'Pag may (if there is) irregularity, graft, corruption, he will be accountable," the Palace official added. 

Panelo earlier said that reported snafus in the Games "do not sit well" with the President.

Cayetano had downplayed criticism of the SEA Games hosting, attributing the problems to budget delays.