MANILA (UPDATE)—The Office of the Ombudsman on Monday said its investigation on problems that initially hit the country's hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) would cover House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.
The lawmaker chaired the private entity that led preparations for the biennial event, which drew flak for troubles on transport and lodging of some athletes, inadequate or inappropriate meals for a number of athletes, some unfinished game venues, and the accreditation of local and foreign press, among others.
Ombudsman Samuel Martires said a 7-member panel of his agency was conducting a fact-finding investigation on how funds for the regional event were handled.
Asked if Cayetano would be included in the probe, Martires said: "Natural. Hindi tayo pwedeng maging selective."
(Of course, we can't be selective.)
"We have to assess ano ang participation ng bawat official ng PHISGOC" he added.
(We have to asses what was the participation of every official of Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee.)
The Ombudsman "will be forced to file a case against those officials involved in alleged corruption," if its investigation finds sufficient evidence, said Martires.
The Senate and Malacañang will investigate the issue separately.
In a statement, Cayetano said he welcomes the probe, adding he will fully support all investigations.
"We welcome this as an opportunity to put to rest all the questions so that we may move forward in celebrating the success of our athletes and honoring the sacrifices of our workforce and volunteers," he said.
"We will fully support all investigations, and as I said before, I am ordering full transparency, audits and opening of all books."
The lawmaker also warned those who "plotted against" the SEA Games by spreading false information.
"As we are ready to meet all these accusations, I am also issuing fair warning to all those who plotted against the SEA Games and put politics over country; those who espoused and spread fake news and malicious lies. Personally I forgive you, but for the national interest there to accountability and a reckoning," Cayetano said.
Cayetano had downplayed criticism of the SEA Games hosting, attributing the problems to budget delays.
—With reports from Adrian Ayalin and RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News